Sexual Violence Targeting Children in the DR Congo

Post a Comment » Written on October 15th, 2012     
Filed under: Community Development
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The Democratic Republic of Congo is the neediest country in the entire world. The Congolese people face so many issues, including extreme poverty, malnutrition, and armed conflict, to name just a few. However, there is another devastating issue that many face that receives little attention – gender-based sexual violence. 

Note: The details below may be considered graphic by some. Please read on only if you are interested in learning more about the issue of sexual violence in DR Congo.

Imagine coming home in the evening from a long, hard day at work. You find your little two year old daughter crying, completely distraught. You try wiping her tears and consoling her, only to find out that she has just been raped by your own brother, her uncle.

For many of us, this may seem like a terrible yet unfamiliar thing to imagine, like something out of a nightmare or a horror movie. For many others in the Democratic Republic of Congo, though, this is an all too common reality. Armed conflicts, impunity, and poverty exacerbate the issue, creating a generalized context of violence.

Because of the ongoing conflict in the country, the perpetrators of rape have traditionally been armed men; however, more and more civilians are committing this act of social destruction, attacking women, vulnerable men and children. Recently, civilians have become the primary perpetrators of sexual violence: approximately 52% of the perpetrators are civilians, while 48% are armed.

Regardless of their age, children are not spared from this violence – children as young as two years old have been seen in hospitals seeking treatment for the effects of sexual violence. The small number of doctors and psychologists in the DRC makes it difficult to deal with the consequences of sexual violence in children. Sometimes, survivors are raped a second or third time, which makes it even more difficult for them to rejoin their societies.

Below are two stories of girls whose lives have been forever affected by sexual violence:

15 year old girl, raped by her uncle in the city of Goma:

“One day, he told me that he was going to buy me some clothes, then he led me to his room, he stripped me by force, and he eventually slept with me. Since then, it became a habit, and I could not denounce him until it was discovered that I was pregnant.”

13 year old girl, raped by a 19 year old boy in the town of Goma (names changed for confidentiality):

“I accompanied my friend Faida to see her friend Chimanuka. Once there, Faida left me alone with him. He stripped me by force, we fought, he defeated me and finally he slept with me. Now I am pregnant.”

Our partner in the DRC, HEAL Africa, is bringing holistic care and support to people who have survived these tragedies. They offer psychosocial, medical, and legal support, along with judicial follow-up and economic support so that those affected by sexual violence can reintegrate into their communities. Please join us in praying for and supporting the ministry of HEAL Africa.

Adapted from this article.

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