Research and testimony in the “Rape capital of the world”: Experts and evidence in congolese asylum claims

Galya Ruffer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


As I prepared for my first field research trip in March 2010 to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to study the introduction of criminal justice and rule of law programs to combat sexual and gender-based violence in the war-torn country, I collected human rights reports and read up on the past ten years of instability and conflict that has led to the official understanding of the DRC as the “rape capital of the world.” Well versed in the human rights reports detailing the mass rapes of women in villages and the rough condition of fieldwork in the worst country in the world according to the international development index, I was quite unsettled to find myself seated on the floral hillside terrace of L’Orchid hotel with its honeymoon view of Lake Kivu, watching the fishermen, sipping red wine, and listening to Jonathan, a fortyish man who, seated alone, had invited me to dine with him, tell me his view about rape in the DRC. He had been a South African soldier stationed in Zaire in 1994 and was now working to set up an artisanal mine. He told me up front that he was not in it for humanitarian purposes. It was business, but at least, unlike the humanitarians, he was honest about it. What he wanted me to know is not to believe everything I hear, that Western researchers come and take away the wrong lessons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status
Subtitle of host publicationThe Role of Witness, Expertise, and Testimony
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781107706460
ISBN (Print)9781107069060
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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