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Combat the terror of rape in Congo
Christian Science Monitor
Marc Sommers and Kathryn Birch
27 January 2009

Marc Sommers is a professor of humanitarian studies at Tufts University. Kathryn Birch is a consultant at Premier Healthcare Alliance and has published extensively on sexual violence in Africa.
Long overshadowed by conflicts in the Middle East, Darfur, Iraq, and Afghanistan, extensive, predatory terrorism largely of a sexual nature continues to attack the heart of Africa. The idea that the international community has a "responsibility to protect" innocent civilians must be given meaning, and nowhere is this more important than in eastern Congo. Military groups there are using rape as a devastating weapon of war.
Make no mistake: these are not isolated incidents involving rogue soldiers. This is an organized campaign of sexual terrorism and the global community must respond forcefully. ()
The United Nations Security Council took a step in the right direction last June when it adopted Resolution 1820, which officially denounces this type of sexual violence as a form of "warfare" to humiliate, dominate, and instill fear. Yet, thus far, the international community's response is woefully inadequate. ()
That's why the Obama administration must act boldly. His team can demonstrate America's commitment to upholding human rights and forcefully moving against all forms of terrorism.
They should work with other Security Council members to vigorously implement Resolution 1820, dramatically bolster the UN peacekeepers' work (while prosecuting those guilty of sexual crimes), and press the current mediators for the eastern DRC crisis, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, to highlight the issue of eradicating sexual terrorism during deliberations with the main military actors in the region.
The International Criminal Court, moreover, should expand its investigations and prosecute the chief architects and perpetrators of mass rape for crimes against humanity and even genocide where the rapes have been systematic and widespread. ()
Justice for the victims is needed, but so is work to address the causes of the conflict and ensure that the long-term patterns of truly extreme violence are finally broken.

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