Woman Tells Story of Rape and Redemption in Congo

Congo woman

A Congolese teenager who was raped in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, practices sewing at class organized by CRS’ partner, Caritas Goma. Photo by Lane Hartill/CRS

CRS partner, Caritas Goma, works with women who have been raped in the Congo. The stigma associated with rape prevents many women from talking about what they went through. The counseling they are given by Congolese women – who often become good friends and mother figures – is an essential part of the program. Caritas Goma shared one woman’s testimony with Lane Hartill, CRS’ information officer.

The armed groups who operate in our area rape young girls and women regardless of their age. I was among the victims. I decided to come and hide my shame here in Goma, especially because my husband abandoned me.

One day, while I was in a church service, a woman who I didn’t know went up to the pulpit and talked about rapes committed by the armed groups. She stressed this unspeakable behavior and invited the victims to meet her at Caritas Goma’s “listening house” [a place where women receive confidential counseling].

After the service, I summoned the courage to speak with her about my problem. I was thrilled when she told me to meet her at an office for an interview.

I told her what happened. After the interview, she accompanied me to the hospital. The nurse told me I was pregnant. I was crushed; I collapsed into tears. I didn’t expect this terrible consequence. I didn’t want this baby who came from someone I didn’t know.

On the way home, I passed by the Caritas office to tell them about my pregnancy. The woman took me in her arms, comforted me, and told me that this baby I was carrying in my stomach was innocent and that I should keep the pregnancy. I had sincerely considered an abortion. She discouraged me and told me that since I only had two children, this child would help me someday.

With other victims, I participated in a credit management training for income generating activities. I received a loan for petty trading. My life started up again. I sell beans, palm oil and corn flour. This activity lets me take care of my family’s needs.

I gave birth to a boy and gave him the name “Dieudonné” (God given). I thank Caritas Goma who helped me pay the maternity fees. They also paid for baby clothes and a skirt for me. I adore my son.

The counselor invited my husband for a discussion, in hopes of starting a conversation between us. My husband said he would take me back on the condition that we get tested for HIV/AIDS. Both of us did the test and the results were negative. Starting up our life together again was a great joy for me and my children, especially since my husband doesn’t discriminate in any way against my child.

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