Hope in the Rape Capital of the World

Masika Katsuva

“Life for a woman in the Congo is suffering.” Masika tells the camera as she digs a field in a tiny village in Eastern Congo.

Masika is a rape survivor. Rebel forces invaded her hometown, raping both her and her two daughters in front of her husband. The militia then killed her husband and forced Masika to eat his private parts.

But Masika’s experience is not uncommon for women living in Eastern Congo. Every hour 48 women are raped.

Some have been raped more than once. Brutally. In a recent BBC Radio Documentary, An Unspeakable Act, victims of rape recall the butts of guns, sticks, and knives shoved up their private parts by their rapists. Some of the women lose their ability to have kids. Others complain about the pain they experience when urinating

And rape has become more systematized. Organized rape camps are set up and women expect to be raped by gangs of 10 to 20 men.  A teen rapist, when asked how he feels after raping, laughingly says that he feels happy.

In the documentary, Field of Hope, Masika’s daughter describes her pain,anger and loss:

I had dreams of going to school, of becoming a lawyer. That was my dream. But everything was shattered after what happened to me….I feel a lot of emptiness inside of me. I got to the point of wanting to kill Stevie [her child of rape]. 

But amidst this backdrop of pain and despair, Masika rents a field. It is her hope that the 170 women and children, victims of rape who she cares for, will benefit from this investment.

I am amazed by Masika’s ability to move beyond her pain and become the glue that holds this community of women and children together. Her desire is to help restore these women to their old selves: “Many think that when they’re raped their lives are shattered, but we’d like them to know it’s not the end of the world.”

Support Masika visit her blog at http://masikarebeca.wordpress.com

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