The haunting personal stories of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo are now part of a growing online conversation hosted by Voice of America and CitizenGlobal, an innovative multimedia crowdsourcing platform.
Since late 2010 when survivors and rights groups began describing cases of mass rape in the villages of eastern Congo, VOA reporters have been documenting the stories of victims, their families, community leaders, and in some cases, the attackers themselves.
Now, these video-taped testimonials and other user generated content and commentary are available online at Congo Story: War, Women and Rape (click here).
VOA Director Danforth W. Austin says, “The VOA/CitizenGlobal project allows victims, policy makers, experts, and others to simply and easily share their stories and perspectives on a global, interactive platform. The project will also serve as an online video and oral history that the outside world would otherwise not have.”
The VOA/CitizenGlobal crowdsourcing platform brings together the “collective community knowledge” about the issue by making it possible for anyone to submit material and become a participant in the global discussion.
In addition to the first-hand accounts by victims of the epidemic of sexual assaults, Congo Story, also has information from experts about the country’s tumultuous political history and the background on how rape has become a weapon of war. In addition, there are stories of hope, strength and survival from rape victims who are seeking justice and rehabilitation.
Available figures from eastern Congo indicate more than 15,000 women have been raped since last year, including children, the elderly and sometimes men. Some recent estimates say the number is far larger. Experts say sexual attacks are used as a weapon of war by militias and armed groups seeking to demoralize opponents and destroy communities. Experts blame Congo’s long-running civil war, ethnic hostilities and competition for precious minerals.
Reporters working with VOA have been contributing to the project from Goma and Bukavu in eastern Congo, where they have been visiting villages and recording the stories that are being posted on the new website. VOA has also established a training program for local journalists who are interested in reporting on the issue of sexual violence in Congo.