This story is part of World Pulse’s Democratic Republic of Congo Regional Focus Campaign to End Violence Against Women. These testimonies, along with hundreds of others, were delivered to the 2013 African Union Summit.
World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Listening to the Voices of Congo’s Women
A Voice for Girls Education
In my homeland, the powerful nature of women is not recognized. From a very young age, we are dismissed as less than. The birth of a son is announced with two joyful shouts, while the birth of a daughter elicits only one shout. Even our naming structure reflects gender inequality. Boys are called Nahano, Cubaka, Ntunga, meaning Owner, Builder, Pillar, while girls are called by names like Nabintu, Ziraje, Nankanfu—all denoting investments, as daughters bring dowries and monetary gain.
As such, many women are not formally educated, since families don’t see the importance of sending a daughter to school. This cycle continues when that daughter becomes a mother, and she in turn does not send her daughter to school. The mother is the child’s first teacher, and we know that if you educate a woman you educate a whole village!
There is radical potential for my country if education for women is prioritized. Lack of education contributes to rampant violence against women in my country, especially in the rural areas. Remember that without education the economic power of women is weak. This is a dangerous combination and men take advantage of it to harass and scorn us.
Let us raise a cry to people of good will so that they will support literacy and access to schools. Let us awaken society’s conscience to ban outdated customs. Let us encourage churches to invest more in education and instruction to loyal patrons. Let us cry out to those who are able to give scholarships for the strengthening of female leadership.
And let us raise a cry of warning to the international community so that lasting peace comes to Congo. As women, let us unite and hold hands for a common cause so that one-day the flags in the hands of women can cry victory.
A Voice Exposing Atrocities
I am a 26-year-old woman living in war-torn Eastern DRC, and every day I learn of new atrocities committed against my sisters. This is a war that plays out on the bodies of women; we have become the battlefield.
Recently, I heard of a woman who was cut into pieces, disassembled as if she were a radio put together with screws. Firstly, they destroyed her reproductive organs then they killed her.
Our parents are surprised at what is happening in the land of our ancestors. They tell us they have never before experienced such things: a girl is raped in front of her parents; a mother is raped in front of her husband and children; a pregnant woman is raped and her baby ripped from her body; 220 people are burned in one province.
How can a human being maltreat another human being to this extent? And why are women always the first victims? Were we not created like the others? It seems that the rebels have decided that it is only on the body of a woman that war can take place.
I ask that the world pray for my country, for it is said that, "It is better to prevent the bleeding than to wait and cure the wound."
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