Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in the DR Congo

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Earlier this month filmmakers Scott Blanding and Greg Heller addressed the membership meeting of the Working Group on Girls. They shared a clip from their documentary, titled “Women in War Zones: Sexual Violence in the Congo”.

After sharing the video they introduced Miss Ritha Baraka, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She spoke about the situation of women and girls in her country.

Miss Ritha Baraka (center)

” I am Miss Ritha Baraka, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, its Eastern part of Bukavu city. I work as a social worker at Panzi Hospital, that is one among the health institutions in DRC specialized for the treatment and care of raped and sexually abused women.

The DR Congo is one of the African countries where women and young girls are seriously affected by different problems. The most common situations affecting women and young ladies are:

  1. Sexual violence followed by the mutilation of women’s genital organs. This mostly occurs after rape, the assailants introduce objects or a piece of wood into the woman’s vagina that cause fistula requiring a surgical therapy that is a very expensive treatment in my country. The majority of these victims are very poor and unable to pay for the hospital cost. They are not only affected physically or morally, but there is also a social aspect affecting the victim. Her chance to conceive a child is reduced after different fistula surgical interventions. The most affected are young girls from 13 years old and up.
  2. In my country, you may find a family of 10 or 8 children. Due to the current economic problems in DRC, parents give privilege/priority to boys to receive an education than girls who stay home waiting for someone to marry them and give a bride price to the parents. As a consequence, young girls grow up ignorant of their rights and unable to claim their rights or to denounce any evil done to them.
  3. Poverty is another issue affecting the women and young girls in DR Congo. The conflict in Congo is one of the major causes that increase the poverty of my country.

To conclude, I would like to say on behalf of all Congolese women that we need persons and organizations to be involved in our situation. Women victims need to be assisted physically but mainly psychologically. Women and young girls need to be educated, knowing how to read and write can be a great deal for them.

Above all these, Congolese women need peace. Why peace? Because all the problems result from the lack of security and conflict in our regions. I am sorry to say that the Congolese woman will be condemned to live under trauma and suffering until the war conflict is stopped in Congo”.

For more on “Women in War Zones” visit: http://www.womeninwarzones.org/page.php?page=trailer