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Jun-10-2011 01:52printcomments

A Perfect Soul Should not be Harmed

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” - old African Proverb

Rape as a weapon

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - It has been widely reported that women in the Congo are the most frequent victims of sexual violence and rape.  Alysha Atma in her article entitled, “Congolese Women 134 times More Likely to be Raped than American Women” dated May 11, 2011 ( noted that 4 women are raped every five minutes in the Congo as  an act of war, power and violence.  After the initial shock of the act of rape comes the reality of what the women suffer next.

Not long ago I produced a report on the victims of rape being treated at the Centre Kitumaini with the assistance of the Atma Foundation based in the US. Today we received horrific news of two new rape victims that have been brought to the center. Very sadly, this report was accompanied by the most horrific photos this writer has ever seen of rape victims.

The Coordinator of the Centre stated in his email that, “They say that rape is a double murder because human beings are slowly dying with great suffering.” This statement could not be more true in the lives of these women. These two women are believed to be ages 19 and 21 and due to the horrific nature of the gang rapes they have survived they are being treated for the abhorrent conditions of horrific infections. The women have very obviously been raped multiple times and most likely with foreign objects.

Due to the longstanding infections being suffered by these women they are no longer able to urinate or defecate as normal bodies due and most horrifically their intestines are beginning to fall from their bodies through the openings left by the trauma.

While the trauma suffered leave many women feeling “homeless in their own bodies” they find hope and treatment at the Centre Kitumaini. These two precious women have been taken to the Panzi Hospital where they are receiving free medical care for their complicated and life threatening conditions.

The IRIN, humanitarian news and analysis published a report today on the laws and lack of enforcement of these laws to protect sexual violence victims in the Congo. They stated, “Given the lack of confidence in the judicial system, many survivors choose to handle sexual assault allegations at the family level. This allows them to avoid the shame and stigma of publicity. But it also means some survivors must marry their rapists. "The traditional chief of the village or family sees the marriage of a young girl to her aggressor as a kind of reparation," explained Zoro. "Even the victim sometimes shares the same wish. She prefers this solution to dishonor, and the impossibility of marrying afterward since she is no longer a virgin."

If it were not for the open arms of those at the Centre Kitumaini and the Panzi Hospital these women would surely meet certain death as they would be poisoned by the waste fluids in their bodies that are not able to be expelled. Upon their return to the Centre they will receive chickens, goats and seeds to start their own lives on their own terms. They will be empowered to grow their own food, sell the eggs of the chickens and feed their families with the milk of the goats. They will also begin the long process of physical and emotional healing.

An old African Proverb states that, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” These two beautiful souls have begun that journey and taken the first brave step back into their own lives.

By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW


Jennifer Fierberg is a social worker in the US working on peace and justice issues in Africa with an emphasis on the crisis in Rwanda and throughout the central region of Africa. Her articles have been published on many humanitarian sites that are also focused on changing the world through social, political and personal action.

Jennifer has extensive background working with victims of trauma and domestic violence, justice matters as well as individual and family therapy. Passionate and focused on bringing the many humanitarian issues that plague the African Continent to the awareness of the developed world in order to incite change. She is a correspondent, Assistant Editor, and Volunteer Coordinator for NGO News Africa through the volunteer project of the UN. Jennifer is also the media co-coordinator and senior funding executive for The Africa Global Village ( Jennifer comes to with a great deal of experience and passion for working to stop human right violation in Africa.

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Anonymous June 11, 2011 1:38 am (Pacific time)

"... an act of war, power and violence." - What else is circumcision?

Anonymous June 10, 2011 9:16 pm (Pacific time)

Sadly, this raping of women in the Congo has been going on for a while. Kevin Sites brought this to the world's attention with his story on the Hotzone on Yahoo a few years ago. Also, a few months ago, the United Nations declared a sanction against the Congo for this very situation.

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