Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

// 12 April 2008

If you missed it on Radio 4’s Today programme on April 10th, you should listen to this very moving and upsetting interview with Zawadi Mongane, a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo who suffered appalling violence by the Interahamwe who killed her family, gang raped her and forced her to kill her own baby. Even the woman translating sounds like she can’t believe what she is hearing.

You can listen to the interview here.

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When Zawadi’s interview was broadcast on Radio 4’s Today programme and on the BBC’s World Service, the response was extraordinary. Numerous people wrote and emailed to express their outrage at what they had heard. Many also wanted to help, to do something. Months later enquiries were still coming in.

What, people wanted to know, had since happened to Zawadi and her only remaining child?

I returned to find out at the end of March this year. Many weeks of phone calls to charities in eastern DR Congo yielded nothing about Zawadi’s fate. Neither did initial enquiries to the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu where I first met her.

But finally, after a lengthy visit to the hospital one of the managers there made a breakthrough. He had received information, he told me, that Zawadi had not gone back to her home village but is living in a suburb of Bukavu.

I found her sitting listlessly in a small shack without electricity in an extremely run down suburb. Physically, she looked much improved on the distraught and tearful figure I met in April last year. Mentally though, it was a different story.

Throughout most of the interview Zawadi’s eyes stared straight ahead, rarely looking at me. Her face remained rigid and set even when cuddling her five-year-old daughter, Reponse, who is the only other surviving member of her immediate family.

“I wish they had killed me to that day,” she muttered.

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 14 April 2008 at 8:57 pm

Interesting that a lot of individuals wanted to know what happened to Zawadi. Often it is only when a woman’s story is broadcast will listeners even begin to understand the endemic male sexual violence against women and girls which is is a global issue. What this young woman suffered is horrific but sadly her story is not unusual or uncommon.

Western Governments and the UN continue to ignore the situation in the Democratic Congo and meanwhile male sexual violence against women and girls becomes ever more horrific and unending. Charities do what they can but they cannot do everything. And male sexual violence against women and children continues unabated.

cyuhira ibrahim babu // Posted 10 June 2010 at 8:05 am

i am a student at national university of Rwanda,this animal actions could be take into account different agencies neighbours countries such as rwanda ouganda and burundi,because all this country have a meaningful contribution to that violence.thanks

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