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The war against women in the Congo!!!

 

 
        

The world

sleeps while

the outrage

continues!!!

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Democratic

Republic of

the Congo map

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congo-map

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DRC: aged one to 90,

the victims of hidden

war against women


The U.K. Guardian


December 5th, 2008


Mirindi Euprazi was 

at home with her family 

when the rebels attacked. 

They broke into her home and took all her possessions, before torturing her, her husband and their teenage children. 

Then the horror began.

“They forced my son to have sex with me, and when he’d finished they killed him. 

Then they raped me in front of my husband and then they killed him too. 

Then they took away my three daughters.”

She hasn’t heard of the three girls, 13, 14 and 17, since. 

A small woman, she speaks softly and without visible emotion, but as she describes being left naked while her house burned, she raises a hand to cover her face.

Euprazi, 50, lives in the village of Ninja, in the Walungu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, close to Rwanda’s western border. 

Today, Ninja is a village almost exclusively of women and children.

Most of the husbands have been killed, either by Interahamwe – 

the Hutu militias responsible for the 1984 Rwandan genocide who then fled over the border into the forests of eastern Congo – 

or by Tutsi rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda.

Almost every woman here has been raped, some countless times.

Some have been so badly injured by repeated rapes by different militias that they are barely able to stand. 

Many of their children were conceived through rape.

The plight of the women of Walungu 

has been documented in remarkable 

video footage obtained by a 

Congo-born nurse and featured 

in a (link) Guardian film. (link)

Walungu is just 40 miles from Bukavu, one of a handful of regional centres where the UN, international aid agencies and journalists have been based since fighting between Nkunda’s militia and Congolese troops displaced 250,000 people in eastern Congo. 

Their purpose is to protect civilians and distribute aid, but the NGOs say it is often too dangerous to venture outside the towns. In Ninja, women and children go hungry. 

Humanitarian aid has not reached here, and there is no security.

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             LEAH CHISHUGI photo

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Leah Chishugi

a nurse now living in London, 

travelled to the region in September 

and October to take food and 

medicine to the villages. 

Chishugi grew up in Goma, just inside the Congolese border, so she knows the region well and is fluent in local languages, but after narrowly surviving the Rwandan genocide in 1994 she fled as arefugee to Britain. 

Appalled by what she discovered on her return, she began to film interviews with rape survivors in the villages.

“The women told me I was the first person from the outside world to reach them. 

They have had no help 

from aid agencies, 

nor from the Congolese 

government and the UN, 

because this area is too 

dangerous for them 

to travel to.”

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She rented a car in Bukavu, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, and drove to Walungu. 

When the roads became impassable she walked. 

“The forests were littered with corpses,” 

she said. 

“It was a horrific sight and the smell was unbearable. 

I imagine that many of the bodies were those of the men who had lived in the villages.

“This killing of the men has happened in other places too such as Kiwanja [further north]. 

I’m sure the idea is that by getting rid of the men they weaken the population, so that if they want to take full control of this territory … there are no local men to fight them.”

Over the two months she interviewed approximately 500 rape victims. 

She recorded names, ages, locations of the rapes and whether the perpetrators were Tutsi or Hutu.

The youngest victim was 

a one-year-old baby, 

the oldest a woman of 90. 

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congo1

Many were raped in their homes, others in the forests where they gathered firewood. 

One 14-year-old already had two children conceived through rape. 

These atrocities are not new: 

the oldest child Chishugi recorded who was conceived through rape by the militias was nine years old.

“I was on my way to market with some of the other women when I stopped off to pee,” 

one woman told Chishugi. 

“I was carrying wood and I was taken by the rebels. 

Five of them raped me. 

I still have pain in my legs because they were so violent. 

Afterwards they said, 

‘You must not walk alone any more.’ 

I have two children born from the rebels.”

Nsimire Bachiyunjuze, 21, was 16 when she was first taken by the rebels. 

“I now have three children born through rape and I’m HIV positive as a result of what they did to me.” 

Her husband rejected her.

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HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are rife among the women who have been raped, 

says Chishugi. 

“Some of the babies were born sick with HIV and the women told me they threw these babies in the bush. 

Some of the women are bleeding all the time and there are lots of vaginal infections.”

Madame, 70, said: 

“Since they raped me nowhere in my body feels right. 

I have problems with my womb, back and stomach. 

The rebels took my daughter and now I’m looking after my four grandchildren. 

I have to sleep in the church because I have no house.”

“I saw horrific injuries from the rapes,” 

said Chishugi. 

“Sometimes the rebels shove corn cobs or gun barrels into the women’s vaginas after they’ve raped them. 

I saw women who were permanently sat on basins because since they’d been raped they hadn’t stopped bleeding. 

I also saw women who’d had their breasts cut off.”

One charity worker said the problems had persisted since shortly after the genocide. 

“Hutus pursued by Tutsi militias had their camps dismantled and then invaded remote villages. 

Since then these outlaws, both Hutus and Tutsis, have been committing massacres. 

People sleep in the bush fearing night raids. 

Many die from pneumonia and malaria. 

We don’t yet know how many casualties there are [but] no humanitarian aid is reaching these people.”

A spokesman for the UNHCR said that while there were many agencies working in Walungu, they had “minimal presence” in villages close to areas still occupied by Hutu militias known as FDLR.

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“There are frequent reports of sexual abuse of women and girls by both FDLR and Congolese army,” 

said the spokesman. 

“Areas such as Ninja … are more far 

flung and inaccessible due to the 

continued presence of FDLR in 

the forests. 

Agencies will not go to areas where 

their safety cannot be guaranteed.”

“This situation is not going to go away,” 

Chishugi said. 

“I want the international community to take action. 

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide nobody spoke up for us and now I want to speak up for people who are suffering.

“[These women] are still terrified when you talk to them; 

you really find the deeper pain in their heart. 

So they need more than just food. 

These people need help.”

On Wednesday, the court of appeal dismissed an attempt to argue that it was not safe to return failed asylum seekers to DRC, and forced removals to the country may resume shortly.

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_________________________________________________
Mama Jeanne runs 
an orphanage,     

housing and caring 
for about one 
hundred children,
and at the same time 
running a big 
project helping women 
subject to 
sexual violence as 
a consequence 
of the ongoing 
war in 
eastern DR Congo.

 

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One Response to “The war against women in the Congo!!!”

  1. I am a ceramic artist, currently studying in London in my final year of a ceramics degree. I am making an installation piece about your subject. I am building many heads which will stand huddled together in the middle of the floor and hanging above them will be parcels. It is to be exhibited on June 12th at Harrow art school in London.

    I feel very angry that this is happening to these women and feel that if the majority of heads of state plus the United Nations were not men , something would be done about this.

    What is happening to these women is FAR worse than what is happening in the middle east. These women are being TORTURED daily. This cannot be allowed to go on. I would like to support their cause by bringing attention to it with my art installation. I am working on it as we speak and it will be presented with as much information as possible about these women.
    Please send me anything you can to inform me more.
    Many thanks,
    Susan Higgs


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