Talking to the Victims of Sexual Violence in Congo
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Around 80% of the sexual violence victims are women, but the other 20% of victims are men. People don't like talking about the fear of male rape. Women who were victims of sexual violence, were also abandoned by their husbands.


Talking to the Victims of Sexual Violence in Congo Male: Outside, a group of women have been patiently waiting to talk to Grace. They’re all survivors of rape. Grace: Are they happy to talk to us? They don’t feel embarrassed? Male: The women are keen to tell their stories. Oriva nyasafari: The soldiers dragged me screaming into the forest. I was screaming like crazy. People thought I was being murdered. They were too scared to come and help. Grace: Were you tested for HIV? Oriva Nyasafari: Yes, they tested me for HIV. But I still have lower back pains. I’m an old lady you know. Grace: Are all these ladies victims of rape? Female: Yes. Grace: So all these children are the product of sexual violence? Female: Yes, that’s right. Male: Twenty five year old Oriva Zamkunda was left pregnant after a group of soldiers raped her. Oriva zamkunda: When my husband found out, he threw me out of the house. I ran away. Grace: How did you give birth? Oriva Zamkunda: They couldn’t help me at the clinic so they sent me to the hospital in Nyanzale where I had a Caesarian. Grace: You are very lucky. If you hadn’t had that Caesarian, you and your children could have died… Twenty per cent of the population is living in the camps, but the large majority is living outside the camps. They have no access at all to services that can help save their lives. So this woman is really one of the luckiest. How many of you were abandoned by your husbands as a result of being raped? Out of the 60 victims of rape that are here today, 58 of them have been abandoned by their husbands. Only two are still with their husbands. Male: Fear of attack while asleep in their beds, is forcing many people to hide in the bush at night, only returning to their villages in the mornings. All across Birambizo Grace finds women who want to space their pregnancies – and doctors and nurses willing, but unable to help… Sylvie nyirasinunva: If only I knew how to delay my pregnancies, I would do it. Grace: Can you help her? Jeremy Basakend: In theory I can help her, but in practice… Grace: I mean can you give her contraceptives? Now? Jeremy Basakend: What now? Grace: Yes. Jeremy Basakend: No, I haven’t got any. There are no contraceptives in the whole Birambizo health zone… Grace: None. Jeremy Basakend: It’s a real need for the whole population around here. Grace: Absolutely. Male: Grace wants to hear a male perspective. Haragira Bitabi, lost his five children in the war. He and his wife now live in a Displaced Peoples Camp. He’s a suspected case of TB. Haragira: We sleep in fear. The women fear being raped and mutilated Grace: Why do the men abandon their wives when they’ve been raped? Haragira: They’re scared of getting infected Grace: Some people believe rape is the woman’s fault. What do you think? Haragira: No. It’s not her fault. But I’d also be scared of getting infected, so I’d make sure she was treated at the clinic before taking her back home. But I wouldn’t abandon her. Grace: Have you heard about male rape? Haragira: We find it very disturbing and we’re scared. I’m also scared for myself. I’m scared to go to my fields on my own…. Male: Many people don’t like talking about male rape – so cases may be higher than most people assume. Grace How many? Jeremy Basakend: Among men it’s at least twenty per cent, and for women… Grace: So twenty per cent of rapes are on men and eighty per cent on women? Jeremy Basakend: Yes. Grace: So it could be higher than twenty per cent? Jeremy Basakend: Yes! But what we see here is around twenty per cent of rapes on men. Grace: So it could be more because most men just wouldn’t come – because of the shame? Jeremy Basakend: Because of the shame. Yes Male: Back in Katsiru, Leonia has given birth. Any complications would have meant a four hour trek on a stretcher to a clinic. A decent supply of cheap drugs and medical equipment would make such journeys unnecessary. Grace: Where to even begin ending the suffering? An end to impunity. Justice seems as good a place as any. Male: By chance, Grace comes across a roadside court martial. A group of soldiers and their officers stand accused of raping and terrorizing civilians. The symbolism does not escape some local women. They’ve been waiting all day to witness the scene. Women in the world’s conflict zones need medical help. And they also need justice. Judge: You are each sentenced to lifetime hard labor. Grace: Although only a beginning, this is a real sign of hope. By far the biggest casualties of this conflict are civilians – not the fighters. And the women and children suffer the most – their need is the greatest. Reproductive healthcare must be seen as a frontline priority – not something to think about only after the fighting is over.