Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Congo and met with Congolese survivors of rape, university students, and President Joseph Kabila to discuss the worsening epidemic of sexual violence in the region. Specifically, Clinton toured the city of Goma, described as “the most dangerous place on earth for women and children.” The Congo is currently embroiled in a longstanding conflict that has resulted in over 200,000 cases of sexual violence against women and girls since 1996. Remarking that “this problem is too big for one country to solve alone,” Clinton pledged $17 million to the Congo to “train doctors, supply rape victims with video cameras to document violence, send American military engineers to help build facilities and train Congolese police officers, especially female police officers, to crack down on rapists,” the New York Times reports.
Also heartening was Clinton’s acknowledgement of the Congo’s illicit mineral trade and unruly state military as major contributing factors to the conflict, and even more specifically, to the country’s skyrocketing levels of sexual violence. Rape as a tactic of war is one of the most brutal crimes against humanity, and we applaud Clinton for having the courage to be the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit the Congo and bravely speak out against violence against women. Although other foreign dignitaries have issued similar promises of aid, we have high hopes for the success of Clinton’s plan in finally bringing an end to the Congo’s ever-increasing levels of sexual violence.