The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been called the ’worst place in the world’ for women, with reports of widespread and horrific incidents of rape and sexual violence and almost complete impunity for the perpetrators of such violence. However, despite the high profile media reporting on sexual violence in the DRC, and the widely publicized responses of the international community, there is still very little real analysis of the real situation of women in the country. This book provides such detailed analysis of gender relations in the DRC, and goes beyond the usual explanations of sexual violence as a product of conflict, to examine the complex and socially constructed gender norms and roles which underlie incidences of violence. The book benefits from a comprehensive account of men’s and women’s roles in conflict, violence, peace building and reconstruction, and evaluates the impacts of national and international political responses. In doing so, this book provides valuable new evidence and analysis of the complex and multilayered conflicts in the DRC.
’Amidst the plethora of reports and books on the Gender Based Violence in the DRC, Freedman’s volume stands out for its passionate concern to locate and properly contextualise GBV in the broader socio-political challenges facing the country. The book is a tour-de-force that reaches beyond the academy to present a strong argument for a revision of global social policy towards GBV in the DRC. A very powerful book that should be widely read!’ Nana K. Poku, Executive Director of the Health Economics and AIDS Research Division and Research Professor of Health Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa ’Jane Freedman makes us sit up and think hard about the pre-war conditions in any society that set the stage for - enable, encourage - men's sexual abuse of women once armed conflict breaks out. Her careful investigation of pre- and post-Congo gender cultural assumptions and public policies push us to take decisive action to confirm women's rights and to insure women's full citizenship before any guns are fired.’ Cynthia Enloe, Clark University, USA