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Interview with Dr Susan Bartels on PPSEA in eastern DRC

In conversation with Marco Werman, Dr Susan Bartels highlights the prevalence of sexual exploitation and abuse against adolescent women and girls by UN peacekeepers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

She emphasises the abuse of power which underpins transactional sex between local women/girls and well-paid, armed UN peacekeepers. Often, girls and women have few options to meet their basic needs and those of their families'. Many lack access to education and experience food insecurity. Bartels explains how this leads to them being vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.

While exchanging sex for basic necessities, like food and money, some girls and women become pregnant. Yet, peacekeeper fathers are not obliged to support young women raising their children. In most examples, the immediate response of the UN is to send these men home or to re-deploy them elsewhere, putting full responsibility and financial burden of raising peacekeeper-fathered children on the mothers. This usually worsens and perpetuates the poverty experienced by girls and their families as they struggle to provide for another family member. Bartels argues that this is a pressing issue which must be addressed by the UN and the governments of countries providing peacekeeper troops.

Please click here to listen to the full audio on The World.

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