Yes, act against sexual violence

I received a lot of comments on my last blog posting – thanks for this. Interestingly, some of my human rights friends (Congolese and foreign) were glad that I put this up. “Violence has engulfed our entire society,” one wrote from Bukavu, “we need to focus on the whole thing and not get so obsessed with the brutality of it that we lose sight of what needs to be done.” Yes, rape is awful, yes what is going on in the Congo is outrageous, and yes we need to act. But I insist, policy does matter.

Which brings me to the next point: my Socratic method was not so appreciated by some who suggested that instead of just criticizing I should also propose solutions. Here I differ somewhat from some of my colleagues – I think short-term solutions have (a) to put an emphasis on tackling impunity and imposing accountability on the army and (b) think of better ways of dealing with the FDLR. I have written about Kimia II and the FDLR here and here. More on SSR soon. I think dealing with the mineral trade is important and urgent, but we shouldn’t expect any change there for several years to come. In the meantime, we need action on the ground. See Human Rights Watch’s exceptional report here.