Women Break the Silence in DRC, Eve Update from Bukavu
Women Breaking the Silence In Bukavu - Part Two Of Historic V-Day Sponsored Events in the DRC
As V-Day reported last week in V-Mail, V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler is currently on her third visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On September 12th in Goma, and most recently on September 19th in Bukavu, V-Day in partnership with UNICEF, organized two day-long events, "Women Breaking the Silence" as part of the joint global campaign: Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power to Women and Girls in Democratic Republic of Congo." To read Eve's letter from Goma from last week' V-Mail please click here >
Letter From Eve From Bukavu
First thank you for your wonderful reactions to the last update. I feel you all here with me and that gives me hope and strength. It is Sunday morning. The birds are out and I am in the green green world of Bukavu. I am trying to find words to describe this week and the ongoing war and madness that is eastern Congo.
The morning after I arrived here, Panzi Hospital was attacked by a gang of bandits. The hospital staff were literally fighting off attackers with sticks. Ambulances and important transport vehicles were vandalized. Windows of the hospital were smashed. Many people were injured, patients and staff. I saw the bruised face of a woman who had made it to Panzi after being raped only to find the place that was meant to be secure, completely insecure. It is hard to tell what caused this outbreak of violence. There was a violent incident in the community which touched it off, but the province of South Kivu is essentially a state of violence. The entire population is traumatized from ten years of genocide and femicide. It is estimated that in this time over 5 million have died in the Congo and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped. In the first six months of this year there were 3500 reported cases of rape in North and South Kivu, What this has done to the psyche of the people is so vast and so deep. The attack on the hospital heightened how things can change here on a dime. How there is no real security and no real government. It took the police over 4 hours to react.
Snapshots of the Stories of Survivors Who Broke the Silence
Following are snapshots of survivors stories from the Bukavu event on September 19, 2008.
My aim is to denounce rape. I am 52 years old. I have nine children. We are suffering a lot even if they say we have peace. We do not. I will tell you what happened. I was selling beer in the market. We met some Interhamwe. They stopped us. They were talking Kinyarawnda. There were 12 of us. They said. "Today you will see. Today you will have other husbands." They told us to lie down. They started beating us with sticks. They all started raping us. They took us into the forests. They beat us more. They raped us again. They walked us again to another camp until one in the morning. Then they tied us to trees. They tied us so tight. There were six women then and two husbands. They raped us in front of them. All the misery of the world was in our heads. We woke up so hungry. They said we had to wait for guests. New sex slaves. They came with a pregnant woman. They told me to cut her open with a knife. I couldn't do it. My hands were trembling. They opened the belly of the woman and threw the baby on the ground. The woman died. Then they chopped up the baby and cooked it. Everyone peed on it with urine and put feces in it. Then they said we had to eat it. They bought bananas. They made us eat it. They said. "You fucking Congolese. You are eating your own sisters." Then the husband of the woman who had been pregnant came looking for his wife. They took him to show where his wife gave birth. He gave them his small dollars. Then another soldier came and hit him and then they killed him. They kept us for two months. They said now soon you are going to die. Oh God, we said. They said, we don't know God. In the morning we heard Congolese soldiers. They screamed for us to lie on the ground. There was lots of shooting. Then they told us to stand and we went to Panzi hospital. We were treated. We were not HIV. After a few days at home, the Interhamwe came again. They killed my uncle, my son, the wife of my brother. I could hear them cutting their heads.
Help V-Day Continue the Work in DRC -- Help the Women As They Break the Silence
DONATE to City of Joy, a project of Panzi Hospital in partnership with V-Day and UNICEF. City of Joy will be a refuge for healed women, survivors of rape and torture who have been left without family and community. City of Joy will offer a safe haven, providing educational and income-generating opportunities, and support women in becoming the next leaders of the DRC. DONATE HERE >