Don’t walk between the bark and the tree.
“Half my family died that night.”
One of the soldiers grabbed hold of me and tied me to him with his belt. My father protested, he said I was too young, they couldn’t take me with them. My brother got really angry and shouted at them to let me go. They shot him. He died instantly.
When we had been forced to pack everything we owned, we left. They said my other brother and my father were to carry the goods they had stolen. I had no choice but to go with them. They left my mother in the house, tied up. When we had walked a short distance, the soldiers decided that our house should be burned down, so one of them went back to do that. My mother had managed to break free, thank goodness, so she survived, but I didn’t know that at the time.
There were a lot of girls there, 25 altogether, and they chose us to be ‘wives’ for different soldiers. I was one of them.
After we had been walking all night my brother complained that he was tired. Then they shot him too. My father tried to escape but he ran onto a landmine and was killed. Half my family died that night. I ended up in a military camp. There were a lot of girls there, 25 altogether, and they chose us to be ‘wives’ for different soldiers. I was one of them.
I lived in the camp for eight months. We had to work, and we were raped. When the soldiers were out on their attacks some always stayed and watched over us, but one day there was an attack by another military group and they forgot to keep an eye on us. I ran. For three weeks I wandered round in the jungle, where all I ate was a little fruit, trying to find my village. Finally I found another abandoned village and a roof to sleep under. In the morning some women came to work in the field and I dared to venture out. I was half-naked and had scratches all over. A woman helped me and after a while I was taken to Panzi Hospital in Bukavu.
I decided there and then that this child was my blood, that I wanted to keep it.
They gave me a medical examination there and they didn’t find any serious medical problems. But I was pregnant. I decided there and then that this child was my blood, that I wanted to keep it. My mother found out where I was and she came to look for me. I hardly recognized her, she was so thin. We both burst into tears and I had to tell her what had happened to my father and my brother.
Now my mother, my daughter and I all live together here in Bukavu. My old village has been abandoned and of course our house had been burned down. I’ve learned to sew and I’m renting a sewing machine so that I can work and support us. My child is my pride and joy. I’ve christened her Ansima, which means “God loves me”. She helps me to forget all the terrible things. I feel proud when I can feed her. And my mother loves her grandchild, even though she is the result of a rape.
Maternal deaths: Just over 900 deaths per l00,000 births ****
Number of children/woman: 5.2 (2011)
Abortion legislation: Abortion is forbidden, even when the mother’s life is at risk.
Law against rape within marriage: No
Violence against women in close relationships: 1.8 million women will be raped during their lifetime. Congo is the second most dangerous country in the world for a woman to live in.