The Democratic Republic of Congo
The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been called a war against women. In over a decade of civil war, tens of thousands of women have been victims of rape as this has been used as a weapon of war on a scale that the world has never seen before. These women and girls are physically ravaged, emotionally terrorized and financially impoverished. This war has killed over 5 million people since 1998; more than any other conflict since the Second World War.
Girls and women are dying from the violence, and its long term emotional and physical effects are profound and far-reaching. The deadly conflict that surrounds the women of Congo robs them of all security. This conflict has left families in the Congo completely destroyed. Justice, basic healthcare and adequate schooling are just dreams for many women and girls in the Congo.
After working with many women from the Congo over the years I have received confirmation that this is one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman. In fact, a recent statistic states that every minute a woman in the Congo is raped. Although I have heard many stories of the rape, torture and victimization that women in this country are confronted with each and every single day, one woman’s story continues to haunt me. This story is about a woman named Bernadette. The first time the militia invaded Bernadette’s house, they killed her husband, one son, and they raped and killed her daughter while she was forced to watch. That day, Bernadette was also raped. She shouted for help, but no one answered her pleas.
The second time the Congolese army invaded her house, they raped and killed her second daughter while Bernadette was forced to watch. Bernadette was raped again. She shouted for help, but no one came.
The third time the militia invaded her house, luckily her other three children were not at home. Bernadette was again savagely raped. This time her genitals were mutilated. The militia poured kerosene in her vagina and lit her on fire. Although Bernadette survived, this time she did not shout for help. She knew there was no one to answer her pleas.
We all need to hear Bernadette’s cry. The Congo is a country that is extremely rich in natural resources. It is a country produces over a billion dollars each year in gold alone yet it’s citizens continue to battle poverty as they lack access to even the most basic necessities. Tin, Cobalt, copper and Colton are all resources that are vital to many Western industries. Canada in particular has mining interests in the Congo. If you use a cell phone, drive a car or fly on an airplane you are benefiting from these interests. We therefore have a responsibility, a duty and an obligation to help the men women and children in the Congo.
The situation in the Congo is not a Congolese issue nor is it an Africa issue. The situation in the Congo is a global issue and is one that demands are attention.