Accepted paper:

Resources and rape: Congo's (toxic) discursive complex

Authors:

Ann Laudati (University of California, Berkeley)
Charlotte Mertens

Paper short abstract:

This paper challenges the oft-made causal link between rape and resource extraction. We argue that the rape-resources narrative has falsely defined the nature of particular spaces, actors, and forms of violence while overlooking the myriad ways that rape and resource exploitation are indeed linked.

Paper long abstract:

In the last decade, the scope and scale of violence in eastern DRC has been mainly understood as armed groups using rape to gain access to or control over the region's rich mineral resources. Without denying both the widespread prevalence of wartime rape and the heavy involvement of armed groups and state forces in the illegal exploitation of natural resources, this article, first, illuminates the making of the rape-resources narrative. Through an analysis of media articles, reports of human rights organizations, UN and advocacy groups such as Enough we begin by tracing the limitations of this discursive complex itself. Second, drawing from our own research in these respective fields of work, together with gathered testimonies from experts working in the region, and a comprehensive review of existing literature, we argue that the causal link between rape and resource extraction is much more suggestive than proposed by the rape-resource framework. We contend that the narrative has falsely defined the nature of particular spaces, actors, and forms of violence in the Congo while overlooking the multiple and indirect ways that rape and resource exploitation are indeed linked.

panel Anth23
Sexual and reproductive rights: conflicting narratives and the future of gender in Africa