Widow Cleansing: Harmful Traditional Practice
Violence against women still is universal, and while it has many roots, especially in cultural tradition and customs, it is gender inequality that lies at the cross-cultural heart of violent practices. Violence against women is deeply embedded in human history and its universal perpetration through social and cultural norms serves the main purpose of reinforcing male-dominated power structures.
The calls for “equal and inalienable rights” for all people, “without distinction of any kind.”
Congo: Mobile Gender Justice Court
In many parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a rape victim has to walk for days or travel more than eight hours by car to get to the nearest court. For example, outside the city of Bukavu in South Kivu—a region that has the highest incidence of sexual violence in the world—there are no courts or magistrates who can hear cases. For those who persevere in filing a police report, justice is still often out of reach: local authorities have no capacity to investigate or prosecute such crimes. Because of this, tens of thousands of gender violence survivors have no meaningful access to justice.
Widow "Cleansing" Tradition - Rights Violation
Widow cleansing dates back centuries and is practiced for example in countries like Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal, Angola, Ivory Coast, Congo and Nigeria. It gives a nod to a man from the widow’s village or her husband’s family, usually a brother or close male relative of her late husband, to force her to have sex with him – ostensibly to allow her husband’s spirit to roam free in afterlife.
Congo: Infants Reportedly Raped in Superstitious Belief Rituals
Superstitious beliefs said to be behind disturbing cases of sexual violence against young children.
Six children under the age of two have reportedly been raped or sexually molested in the Lubumbashi area, as part of apparent rituals in which the perpetrators believe they will acquire good fortune as result of the abuse.
The new cases come in the wake of a number of similar well documented incidents of sexual violence against infants over the last year, which have alarmed activists and sparked calls for the introduction of the death penalty for such offences.
A new police unit in Lubumbashi tasked with protecting women from sexual violence – which was set up four months ago - told IWPR about the latest cases, in which it said several of the victims were babies. It said it was aware of similar cases in other parts of the country.