November 25, 2022
Universal Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women
“I live with my parents in Uvira, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. I help them in the fields and at home. One day, when I went to get water in the neighborhood, I was sexually abused by a member of my family. I told my parents everything when I got home, and the culprit was arrested.”
Ima (not her real name) went to the Kabimba health center, supported by Doctors of the World, in order to receive medical and psychosocial care. She received a treatment kit to protect herself frompossible sexually transmitted infections. She also spoke with Floribert, one of the psychosocial assistants from DotW.
“I was lost, he helped me to find myself. Thanks to group therapy sessions, I was able to meet other survivors of sexual violence, to share what had happened to me.”
The perpetrator of the sexual violence was released and returned to the village.
“I still see him sometimes in the village. Every time I see him, I feel bad, and I am ashamed. It eats away at me. I had never been with a man before, and this horrible incident stillcontinues to haunt me.”
Ima has also received a small amount of financial support from DotW to start a business, where she sells products in the market and on the street. She does not give up and continues to move forward.
Myriam (not her real name), widow, mother of three children, from Makobola, says: “It was July 2021. I was working in the fields. I was sexually assaulted by three men when I was alone. I went home drained, down and distressed. I didn’t speak anymore, neither to my children, nor to the village chief. I didn’t leave the house for days which alerted Bobylia, the focal point of the protective community. I confided in him.
Myriam then went to the Makobola health center, supported by DotW.
“When I arrived, I couldn’t sleep, I felt guilty, I was discouraged. Thanks to the psychological support I received from DotW psychosocial assistant, I was finally able to talk to my children.”
Today, having become a member of the ‘protective community’, a DotW project, Myriam is raising awareness about sexual violence among other Makobola residents.
“I advise victims of violence to go to medical facilities. I also teach my daughters to be careful, to avoid insecure places, and that they should not accept gifts from foreign men, who will inevitably expect something in return.”
© Caroline Thirion