Congo-Kinshasa: Raped, Rejected, Accepted – Rebuilding Broken Marriages in Congo

By Katy Migiro* 10_drcgfxNairobi — When Abby and his wife Kyalu were abducted by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he was forced into hard labour and she was raped. When they returned home, Abby sent his wife – pregnant with a rebel’s child – to live with her parents. “Finding out what they did to my wife was unbearable,” Abby said in a film ‘Living Peace: The Story of Abby and Kyalu’ which premiered at a conference in South Africa this week on sexual violence. “I became violent with everyone around me. The trauma I felt made me crazy,” Abby said. Most Congolese women who are raped by strangers are forced out of their homes, and children born of rape are also stigmatised, experts said. “They are called snakes because they remind people of bad times,” Benoit Ruratotoye, director of the Institute for Mental Health in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. The trauma of war seeps into the family home. Men who have been exposed to violence tend to become violent towards their wives and children. Six out 10 men reported being violent towards their partners, and one-quarter said they were sexually violent, according to a survey carried out in DRC’s North Kivu Province by the charity Promundo. Of those questioned, one in 10 men and two in 10 women said they had been raped. Most people had lost a family member in the war and said they never had enough money to sustain their family. In a country with few counsellors, psychiatrists or psychologists, those affected have to find a way to cure themselves, Ruratotoye said. In 2012, Promundo and Ruratotoye started carrying out male group therapy sessions in the east of the vast central African country, described by one senior United Nations official as the rape capital of the world. After a successful pilot with 300 men, they won additional funding to reach 9,000 men and their wives by 2019.


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