CARE BLOG

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Mapendo Marie, rape survivor

8/27/12
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Mapendo Marie, rape survivor image 1
A woman who arrived in Katoyi, North Kivu without clothes said that during an attack on her village, five of her family members, including her mother-in-law, husband and child, were killed.

Mapendo Marie (her real name has been changed to protect her identity) doesn't know her exact age, but she looks about 16. Last year, she was raped while returning from the fields where she had been working that day. Mapendo is from the village of Kisheke in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. After it happened, she returned home and didn't tell her family at first –only when she was about six months along in her pregnancy. Her grandmother Georgette Dunia (her real name has been changed to protect her identity) insisted she visit the nearby clinic for a prenatal visit. Soon thereafter, her son Jackson was born. He will likely never know his father since Mapendo herself didn't know who her rapist was and has never seen him again.

Mapendo had to leave her home due to the conflict that has ravaged North Kivu since April of this year. She lives with her son on the outskirts of Goma, not far from her native village, in a makeshift shelter with her grandmother and several other family members. Mapendo often does not know where their next meal will come from. But she is too scared to return to their village any time soon.

One of CARE's programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo helps to support rape survivors by giving them what they often need most: a way to make a living. CARE provides socioeconomic support by establishing village savings and loans associations (VSLA), which allow very poor communities or groups to save money and invest to start small businesses. In addition, CARE supports women through income generating activities – Maputo will receive assistance though these as well.

However, much more needs to be done to stop sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So that one day, no woman, no child or no man needs to fear of such an attack on their body. Until then, CARE is there to help.

CARE, one of the largest aid organizations worldwide, calls for total protection of women and girls in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo as the conflict in North Kivu enters its sixth month. The recent escalation of violence affects over 350,000 people, including between 270,000 and 275,000 who are displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and some 54,000 who have fled to neighboring Rwanda or Uganda. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence in this context. Working at the community and camp levels, CARE has been able to provide support to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence as well as to prevent such atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In collaboration with humanitarian partners, CARE is running four projects that treat survivors and work to stop sexual violence in conflict areas in North Kivu.

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