CRISIS IN DRC: Die or accept your fate


Marie, 30, fled her home in Kitchanga when armed groups arrived and violence broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo in March. Her long journey to safety – a week by foot, through fields and forest – was anything but safe.

CRISIS IN DRC: Die or accept your fate image 1
Marie with her baby. She was raped fleeing to Lac Vert camp in DRC and currently does not know where her husband is.

© CARE / Adel Sarkozi

One day, at dusk, not long before reaching the Lac Vert camp, the group of women she was with found themselves surrounded by armed men.

"As soon as we saw them, we knew what would happen," she says. "It is either die or accept your fate."

For women in DRC, "fate" often means rape

In the forest, at dusk, in front of their children, Marie and all the other women with her were raped.

Marie has a four-month-old baby. She doesn”t know where her husband is; they lost sight of each other when they fled. He doesn”t know what has happened to her, and Marie worries about how he is going to react once he does.

Somehow, after their ordeal, the women made it to Lac Vert camp. She arrived a week ago, and has been in pain and ashamed ever since.

"Everything hurts." She points to her abdomen, back, neck. She touches her head. "And here, too. I can”t sleep. What happened has been keeping me awake."

Support for rape survivors

Yesterday, Marie heard about the "house for mothers," a tent in the camp where women who have suffered sexual violence are offered support. Mustering up her courage, she came here to seek help. Now, she will receive emotional support and referral for medical care at the nearby health center.

Marie found out about the house from an educator trained by CARE. The job of educators is to let women in the camp know that such a place exists. They talk to survivors and encourage these women to reach out for help. They also speak to men to help foster a change in attitudes towards rape.

Marie says of the group with whom she traveled, "I will tell the other women to do the same, to come here. Many are ashamed and don”t want to admit to what has happened to them."

Rape with impunity

Marie says that the men who commit these horrific acts are never punished. "How can they be?" she asks. "They appear from nowhere, and disappear into nowhere. Who is going to find them?"

Her only hope is when the war stops, life will be better.

"Tell people to help us so that this stops, and we can go back to our homes," she says suddenly, a trembling plea in her voice.