Sexual penetration of minors is punishable by life in prison. Sierra Leone’s president says the numbers are staggering. Each month, hundreds of cases of rape and sexual harass have been reported in this country. These despicable crimes of sexual violence are being committed against our own women, children and even babies. The reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence in Sierra Leone nearly doubled last year to over 8,500, according to police statistics. 1/3 of these assaults involved a minor. But continent-wide reliable data on rape cases can be scarce. According to estimates released last year by South Africa’s National Statistical Service, nearly 140 out of every hundred thousand women in the country were raped in 2016 and 2017.
This 35-year-old was on her way to work, and the only a passenger in a public minibus taxi when she says she was raped by the driver. Most of the time, radio and TV campaigns encourage us to come forward to report rape, but when we come forward, they make us feel guilty for the rapes.
In Somalia, Fatima and her friend were collecting firewood near an IDP camp in Portland when three men attacked them. I was in month four of pregnancy, I miscarried the baby days later. In the DRC’s North Kivu, Claudian said she was raped twice. The assailants who broke into my house arrived. They raped me in front of the father of my children. The second time they raped me in front of my child. These are just a few voices of rape victims. Many don’t speak up, says Doctors Without Borders, Margaret Bell. Sometimes, the person is blamed themselves for that violent act. Sometimes, they feel that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s a lot of particulars within a family. There’s a lot of stigmas around. You know, they’re trying not to let anybody know. The families want to deal with it themselves. You know, sometimes the victims are ostracized particularly if they become pregnant as a result of the rape.
Rape has also been a weapon of war. Dr. Denis Mukwege won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his work with victims of gang rapes during the DRC’s conflict. We had seen a decline in the number of victims of sexual violence around 2011. Unfortunately, these numbers have started to increase again with the resumption of war. His hospital in the city of Bukavu cares for more than 3,500 rape victims a year who often need reconstructive surgery. Mariama Diallo VOA News Washington.