RealNews

Congo's Warring Factions Leave a Trail of Rape

They had walked through the banana groves and up the empty red dirt roads. Among them was a mother of two, clutching a child at her breasts, a pregnant woman holding her belly, a girl in a tattered blue school uniform skirt. By any measure, the war in this country is among the cruelest in the world, and these are the survivors of one of its cruelest weapons. They and countless others have been raped by soldiers spreading terror through the countryside; of this group, only the 13-year-old girl, who screamed with all her might as her attacker grabbed and tore at her clothes, had been spared. In Bukavu, the nearest big city, an average of 20 village women a week trickle into Centre Olame, a church-run rape victim center. On a recent morning, Mathilde Mahindo, who runs the center, pored over data from the week before. The victims ranged in age from 17 to 48. Most had been raped several times, one by 10 men. The husband of one victim was abducted. Another woman was raped with her mother. No one knows how many have been raped during Congo’s four-year war. It is clear that especially in this part of the country, South Kivu Province, sexual attacks have become endemic and have gone virtually unpunished, as soldiers from one armed group after another have seized villages, pillaged homes, taken women and girls at the point of a gun or knife. Neither 4-year-old girls nor 80-year-old grandmothers have been spared. Judging by the new cases before the mobile medical clinic, many have been raped by several men. Full Story

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