Congo flooded with aid after rape tragedy.
The focus on rape has led to a neglect of other needs such as maternity services, says the report on the study, published yesterday. Moreover, the aid was one-sided: most of it was short-term medical support. There was no attention to the underlying causes, namely the powerless position of women in the Congo. Too often, the aid was orchestrated from distant head offices of international aid organizations without proper research on the needs on the ground or an integrated approach to them.
Many international organizations are ‘opportunistic', says the report. ‘They have no concrete expertise and are primarily interested in securing funding.' Organizations prioritize reaching large numbers of victims and therefore opt for easily accessible locations. It also seems that poor women sometimes pretend to have been raped in order to qualify for aid.
Aid for victims of sexual violence has become a business, concludes the report. And this turns sexual violence into a business, both for international organizations and for individuals in the Congo. This is more likely to impede efforts to tackle the problem than to assist them. ‘Development organizations play on the emotions too much and pursue hypes in order to get money out of donors', said Hilhorst on a recent radio programme. ‘Actually, this shows what could happen to development cooperation if it gets less government funding. I appeal for government-funded development cooperation.'