Winners 2013 > Emotions Series > HM - Sarah Fretwell

Girl Mother                                                                                                                                                                                                           Girl Mother : Goretti is a 21 year-old “girl mother”. Five years ago, she woke up in the hospital after being brutally raped by 10 soldiers. Sixteen years-old, she was alone and afraid. Nine months later, she returned to the hospital to give birth to her daughter -Waridi. In the DRC the name used to describe girls like Goretti is "Girl Mother." She dreams of being married, but because of the stigma of rape it will be difficult for her to find someone who is willing to marry her. There is an entire generation of brave and vulnerable girls forced into motherhood by rape. She and thousands of others are lovingly raising a generation of fatherless children.                                                                                                                             ...
Girl Mother Girl Mother
Child Soldiers : They seemed more like children than soldiers, but they told us it was impossible to count the number of people they had killed.  One of them joined because of peer pressure from his friends.  Now he just wants a chance at a “normal” life and to get married.  The only problem is they possess the emotional intelligence of children, but they are used to the respect a gun yields.  Worse of all there are no viable job prospects in sight.  The only chance at employment would be to return to the army.  They are hiding in a COPERMA member village.  The village is caring for them, but wary they could turn on them at any time.  The army was in the area searching for them.
Child Soldiers
Kavira - 14 years-old : She told us, “If I find the people who raped me I will say to them that they should be in prison or even killed”. This is a bold statement for a lone 14 year-old who had to flee her family and village across the valley and ended up at a COPERMA center. She was staying with a foster family set up by COPERMA and is hoping to get into a sewing apprenticeship at the training center. With no options for recourse the girls are resolved to move on and begin a new chapter in their life. They laugh, work, and live together building their vision for the future.
Kavira - 14 years-old
Kavira Kabambi 16 : Kavira Kabambi is a 16 year old survivor.  When we met her she had been raped the month before.  She was with her sister and paternal aunt who were also attacked.  Her grandmother knows and is mad at her.  Her attackers spoke Lingala (language of the FRDC soldiers).  She feels Ok physically, but the attack disturbed her a lot.  When she thinks about it her body feels heavy.  Like thousands of other girls she has no access to mental health services she is isolated and stigmatized.  She will suffer alone trying to reconcile this even in her mind for years to come.
Kavira Kabambi 16
Kavira Kahundo – 40 years-old : This mother of eight was raped a few months before we met with her. She told us she had heard of the word "rape" before, but had never met anyone who had been raped. Congolese troops raided her village at night. She hid in her house, but they trapped her. Before they left, they stole everything in her house including the clothes she was wearing. She was left injured and naked. She told us a neighbor gave her the clothes she was wearing in this photo. She tells us it is wrong, that she should not have to live like this, “like an animal.” She is so traumatized by the attack, she has been unable to return to her field to cultivate her crops.  When we asked her about her hopes for the future, she said she wanted her life to be "good," her children to study, and for the Congo to have stability.
Kavira Kahundo – 40 years-old
Kavugho Vawhere -15  : This young teen was angry and terrified that she was pregnant. She refused to let us take her to the hospital for care because she was worried the kids at school would find out what had happened to her. We let her know they could do a test to see if she was pregnant, but the fear of others finding out what had happened and the stigma that would result was too great.
Kavugho Vawhere -15
Mama Jacqueline – 63  : Mama Jacqueline told us about growing up in her village and the problem of rape. The stigma used to be worse and women would be forced to live in the bush. Now rape is more prevalent, and in her village women are not forced to leave. She explained that women have no way to protect themselves. If you are going to the water source to get water and you see men, they can do whatever they want to you. She explained where they live, you don't talk about rape because people will "sing it throughout the village" and it will be very bad. Some husbands abandon their families and young girls are considered undesirable for marriage. Without a man to serve as the liaison for society women have no place, few rights, and little future.
Mama Jacqueline – 63
Masika Anwaritta - 16 : There was fighting in her village so she hid in her house. “There were three girls in the room, they were my sisters. One older sister and her younger. 19 and 13 years old”. Two days after the rape she was raped again by 3 soldiers. She has seen the soldiers who raped her in the adjacent town. We asked her if there is anything that would help her protect herself. She said, “Yes a sewing machine”. Surprised by her answer, it took us a few minutes to understand. She is an apprentice sewer and if she has a sewing machine she can sew clothing for a living instead of working in the filed where many women are attacked.
Masika Anwaritta - 16
Name unknown - estimated age 5  : Many of the girls and women we spoke with were attacked while completing essential daily activities like walking to and from their field or on the way to get water.  With all of the problems facing the DRC, rape is only a symptom of the larger societal breakdown.  According to a 2008 World Bank report on the Democratic Republic of Congo, there was no program on-budget to directly address the issue of violence against women. Four years later, it appears to remain a low priority for the Congolese government, police, and the international community. This young girl - like many other girls and women - walked hours from home - in this case to get firewood.  Girls and women walking alone are especially vulnerable to the attacks of soldiers and unscrupulous civilians.  As one interviewee explained, "...women have no way to protect themselves. If you are going to the water source to get water and you see men, they can do whatever they want to you.  Where we...
Name unknown - estimated age 5
Paluku – age unknown : Paluku is one of the good men who has stayed with his wife and family, even after his wife was raped.  He described watching and listening as his wife, Hangie, screaming as she was attacked by two soldiers, but being able to do nothing to help her because they had guns. After the soldiers left,  he confessed he had seen the entire thing.  His wife started to cry.  He wanted to cry, but he was too angry and afraid.  He convinced her to go to the hospital (a small fortune for someone living on less than $2 USD a day). He told us he forgave his wife because he knew it was not her fault, that the event did not change the love he has in his heart.  I listened to his story amazed at the lack of resentment and his desire to move forward. He smiled and continued to discuss how he and his wife were doing. Life was still not back to normal. She was not sleeping well and had bad dreams.  It was great to be reminded of the wonderful men like Paluku with perseverance and an...
Paluku – age unknown
  

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