Imagine you are a civilian left to fend for yourself against brutal attacks, torture, looting, rape and murder, as well as being deprived of basic conditions necessary for life. You are also unable to properly provide for yourself, and for your children, as you all become more severely sick as the days go by. Women in the Congo carry this burden every day. They are forced to watch their husbands and children be murdered in front of them, forced to flee their homes, being victims of torture and gang rape. Having no proper form of protection, and no proper form of help, they are left with an inescapable fate.
Women of the Congo are being violated and abused every hour as a war tactic used to show position of power between communities.
Most of the abuse women endure is sexual violence. In their lifetime, estimates of around 1.8 million women have reported being raped; with the average lifespan of a woman living in the Congo to be 46. Approximately 3.1 to 3.4 million women reported experiencing an intimate partner regarding sexual violence.
Women are used as a war tactic and prime target to break and destroy community and family bonds; in the past five years violence towards women has become more common and increasingly more brutal in the area of The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Used to ultimately create population control, the type of violence experienced by the majority of women, is sexual abuse, including: gang rape, sexual slavery, forced participation of family members in rape, and mutilation of women’s genitalia with knives and guns. Mutilation is done to get rid of the sexual “libido,” allowing women to no longer want to engage in illicit sexual activity. The severity of violence against women in the DRC and the scarce attention it receives in the media, provide little research and estimates of the magnitude and intensity of this problem.
For every woman admitted for treatment, there are an estimated 30 more suffering from similar injuries that stay in hiding, because they cannot commute to a health center, or are stigmatized for being a rape victim. Some victims fear rejection from their husbands and families and may never be able to have children again.
Others are either impregnated by their attackers, or are just too weak from starvation to sustain treatment. WFP coordinator Jean-Charles Dei states, “Women can’t go into the fields to cultivate their produce because they fear being abducted and raped. This is having a huge impact on food stability because women make up to 80 percent of the agricultural workforce.” This may force women to stay inside starving, where they could be living with an abusive partner or family member. Bringing truth to the fact that nowhere is safe for a woman living in the Congo. More so than ever, women have begun to seek help at health centers to hopefully gain treatment after being abused. Stories exist of women walking 200 miles for help, while suffering from broken legs and gunshot wounds to their vaginas. Women of the Congo face horrific abuse and mutilation, these women need to find new hope in order to one day ensure their future generations a nonviolent life.
There is not enough readily available information out there that talks about this particular issue. Compared to what’s going on with the women in the Middle East, or Russia and Crimea, the women of the Congo is barely, if at all, touched on by the media. The media is a gateway to finding out world issues for most people, without the media we are crippled to obtaining this vital information. Raising awareness can change generalized thinking, allowing for people of current and future generations to start the change and eventually help to permanently stop sexual abuse and mutilation in the Congo. By exploiting this issue through the media we can provide outside help for women in the Congo. Once the conditions of this controversial issue are learned, globally and universally, it can call people to action. Giving the voiceless, a voice.