Sexual Assaults Are On The Increase In Central African Republic

Gender-based violence is increasing in the Central African Republic amid ongoing conflict. According to Locals and Aid Groups, there is also a weak legal system and the shame of speaking up.

Since 2020, episodes have hopped from 9,200 announced cases to 25,500, as per cases followed by the United Nations and partners, but the country’s international funding has dropped, with gender based violence getting little help.

Less than 15% of the about 14 million U.S. dollars requested in humanitarian assistance has been received, according to the U.N., with donor fatigue and the impact of multiple global crises blamed for the lack in funding.

The supposed culprits of gender-based violence include everybody, from criminals to U.N. peacekeepers and military workers for hire from Wagner.

The U.N. has long battled with allegations of sexual assaults by peacekeepers in the African nation and elsewhere.

Three years ago, the secretary-general ordered the immediate repatriation of the entire Gabonese peacekeeping contingent following credible reports of sexual abuse.

According to a woman who shared her ordeal, she was raped by a member of MINUSCA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.

She asserted she battled to share her story or to seek help because of a paranoid fear of being ‘pursued’.

“I turned to my church pastor, who advised me to pray a lot for myself and not to sue the man who raped me. He didn’t want me to lose my job, so I didn’t tell anyone”, she explained.

However, Doctors Without Borders (DWB) says it has seen an increase in the number of survivors of gender-based violence seeking help due to the expansion of its services and outreach.

Most of survivors probably don’t approach, frequently on the grounds that help isn’t accessible where they reside.

Women who do come forward find it hard to receive justice, according to the Association For Women Lawyers for Central Africa, which had 213 cases of sexual assault and rape reported in 2022 and 304 cases in 2023.

Sometimes women open a case against local fighters but withdraw it because perpetrators’ families pay survivors not to proceed, according to the association.

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Central African Republic’s new constitution has adopted measures to tackle the issue, saying authorities must combat all forms of violence against women and ensure that sexual assault is eliminated.

The Central African Republic has been in conflict since 2013, when predominantly Muslim rebels seized power and forced the president from office. Christian militias fought back.

A 2019 peace deal only lessened the fighting, and six of the 14 armed groups that signed later left the agreement.

A U.N. peacekeeping mission and troops from Rwanda all have boots on the ground to help quell the violence, as does the Wagner mercenary group, which operates alongside the country’s army and has been accused by locals and rights groups of abuses.

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