As the world marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, conflict flared in the Democratic Republic of Congo and rape was once again used as a weapon. Read Jolly*’s story to find out the impact that rape can have on a woman:
“I come from Kibati in Masisi and came in August of last year. When I fled from Kibati I took a truck to Sake and then from there came by foot to Goma after spending the night in Sake. It took nearly a whole day – the road is long. My father was the one who brought me here but after he dropped me I haven’t seen or heard from him again. I heard from people in my village that he has gone to Ruhero but he hasn’t tried to contact me.
He took me by force
This is my first-born daughter and she is just over a year old now. I didn’t know her father – he took me by force and that is how I became pregnant. It happened to me when I was 17 and I am now 18 years old.
In Masisi we had a good life. My family were farmers and I had three brothers who are younger than me. After my mother died about five years ago it was up to me to look after them and make sure that they were OK. My mother died during child birth. Many women in Masisi do. I had an elder brother too – he was in the FARDC (Congolese Army) but he was killed – we were not told how he died or where – my father was told by somebody that he was no longer alive.
I want to go back to school
I want to go back to Masisi to be with my brothers – they are my family. I also want to be able to go back to school to study but when I realised that I was pregnant my father made me leave and brought me here.
My father wants to put the men that did this to me in jail but when he told this to people in the village he made enemies and now he can’t go back – this is why he has gone to Ruhero. The men were from an armed group – people knew who they were.
One day I was walking home from school through the fields. I was with some girlfriends. Some men came towards us who we didn’t know. Two men came up to me and took my arms by force and took me to the forest and did bad things to me. I was very upset. I went back to my house and told my father what had happened and he was very angry. But it was after four months that I started to feel strange and told my father – and that is when he brought me here. I cannot go back to the village even though I want to. I am scared of those men – scared of what they may do to me.
My hope for peace in DRC
My hope for the future is to have peace around us in Congo. There is too much violence here and there are no jobs for anyone. I do not know how to support this child when I leave this centre. The men who did this to me should take responsibility for this child and for me because they have destroyed my life.”
*name changed to protect identity.
As the UK takes on the presidency of the G8 next year, Foreign Secretary William Hague wants to make sure that people who commit sexual violence in conflict don’t go unpunished.