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Will Congo's troubling rape statistics compel any change?

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The report’s authors provide the most comprehensive compilation of countrywide statistics to date on sexual violence by pulling together the findings of previous studies and then filling in gaps with results of the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey, conducted by the Congolese government with technical and financial assistance from USAID and Macro International.

The authors acknowledged the shortcomings of previous studies based primarily on health facility and police reports and sought to improve upon that methodology. Despite the new study’s thorough effort to generate the most accurate statistics, the particularly sensitive nature of sexual violence in Congo, where victims are often ostracized, poses inherent challenges; we’ll likely never know the true extent, quantitatively, of sexual violence across a country as vast as Congo.

The statistics are a useful reference tool for journalists, aid organizations, and advocacy groups like Enough. But the unprecedented problem, both in scope and brutality, is widely acknowledged by now. Lack of awareness isn’t the issue any more. Despite the deployment of the world’s largest UN peacekeeping mission, visits from prominent officials and activists, and the presence of local and international NGOs seized with serving survivors and finding solutions on the ground, the problem persists.

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