January 8, 2018

A Display of Hope for East Congo Survivors of Sexual Violence

By Judith Osongo Yanga: Director of Communication, East Congo United Methodist Church

The Problem of Rape and Stigma

The eastern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where one finds our Episcopal region is well-known for numerous troubles from militants or rebels, who often rape women and children. Being innocent and vulnerable these victims are abandoned by their own family, in particular by their husbands. There are many reasons for this, and all of them contribute to destroying families.

They find themselves doubly victimized because of the stigmatization they sustain after the violence. Having been abandoned by their parents, families or husbands, their primary refuge is in the church. We have found group prayer meetings to be very timely and have drawn closer to these women and children in order to listen to them more deeply. This is how we document cases of abandonment. Society has completely forgotten that they have a right to life. Faced with this situation, the church must play a role in helping form a new life for them by making them useful in society.