• In the southeastern region of Congo, Kivu, 1500 women are being raped every week. The women are raped in their homes, kidnapped, tortured and forced to live as sex slaves for months. Some have been forced to watch when their children are murdered in front of them. Some women are killed after the abuse. The fighting groups systematically use sexual abuse as a way to terrorize and humiliate the population. The government army is also guilty of assault. Women are extremely vulnerable because they are excluded from the society after the assaults. The abuses increase in number every year, and are also becoming rougher. Out in the villages there are thousands of women who have not yet received care. Many women are in need of urgent surgery. When the team from the Panzi Hospital arrives to the village of Mulamba the women are waiting for help. The last year, over 100 women have been raped only in this village.

  • The women are examined on a simple bamboo bench and get medicine. When the team is forced to go back, because the night falls, several women have not yet been examined.

  • Dr. Justin Chebeya Bonanes knows that time is short. Various militia groups are still raging in the area and before darkness he must be back in the town of Bukavu, a couple of hours away. After examining twenty-seven women without interruption, the team is forced to pack up and leave.

  • The women are lining up outside the small dispensary the whole day in hope of getting help. They know that there is not enough time for everyone to be examined and that the hospital team won’t return again.

  • Only in the province of South Kivu it is assumed that over 40 000 women have been raped the last year. Aid organizations estimate that as many as one in three women have been raped in the DRC.

  • Every day 10-15 women are getting a surgery at the Panzi Hospital. – This is only the women from the area around the town of Bukavu. How the situation is further away, no one knows, says Dr. Mukwege. – All we know is that thousands and thousands of women in the villages are waiting for help, he says. Unfortunately, our ability to reach them is extremely limited.

  • The women need to test their blood to see if they are infected with HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease.

  • Among the victims there are women of all ages and even children. Marie, 5 years old is sitting in the hospital bed next to her grandmother who is watching over her day and night. Six months ago she was raped by soldiers when she was playing in the woods outside her home village Ciragabo. Two weeks ago, she arrived in the hospital. The doctor says her injuries are severe.

  • Zawadi Muguma is 22 years. For five months, she was kept as a sex slave to the leader of the military camp where she was captured. Four days ago, she became the mother of a little boy. Son of the enemy.

  • The hospital tries to help healing the women both physically and mentally, but when they return to their villages, many of them are being raped again. Some women have been raped up to three times.

  • Justine Sirire, 30 is being operated for the fifth time. Three years ago she was raped for the first time by three soldiers. This time, five soldiers forced themselves on her. Now, two months after the rape, she has been able to walk the 80 kilometers over the mountains from her home village Malende-Kando, to the Panzi hospital to seek treatment. The last time she was here, it took her four surgeries and six months before she was well again.

  • On the blackboard outside the operating room, the names of the women who have to undergo surgery is written down.

  • In 2003, an agreement was signed that would end the war in the DRC. But instead, the various militias have turned against the women. Mass rapes have become a part of warfare. The goal is to destroy the core of society, the families.

  • The women are suffering from mental traumas. The physical damages caused by rape are large, because the perpetrators in many cases use knives and sharp objects in the vagina to hurt as much as possible. Many women get pregnant after the rape and are forced to give birth to the children.

  • Kabalabala Lokuno, 37, Ninja-Butembo: ”It happened on a Saturday in August, at ten o’clock in the evening. We were sleeping when there was a knock on the door. Ten soldiers stormed in and tied my husband and my five children. Then 0they raped me, all ten of them. After the rape they tied my hands behind my back and forced me out in the woods, though I could barely walk. Time after time, they raped me and beat me. After a week, I managed to escape, still with my hands tied behind my back. When I got home my husband said that he no longer wanted me. He has taken the kids. The ropes damaged my wrists so I can not use my hands anymore. I do not know how I will be able to support myself in the future. But the worst part was being raped in front of my own children.”

  • Bengi Mabikano, 16 years, Ninja-Butembo: ”It happened in August, just when I was getting ready for the wedding with my fiancé. One night someone knocked hard on our door. All of us woke up. The militaries asked if I was married. I said, yes. They tied my hands behind my back. Then they abducted me to the woods. We walked for two days until we reached a military camp. They forced us to undress ourselves, me and another girl in my age from my village. When we refused they beat us up hard. Then they tore off our clothes and so we were forced to lie in the sun, still naked. After a few hours, seven men raped me and the other girl. Before, I was a virgin. I cried. It started to bleed. The soldiers began to rape me all the time and beat me. After ten days, I managed to escape. When I came back to the village it was empty. All had escaped.”

  • Claudine Kagerska, 50 years, Kaniola: ”We woke up in the middle of the night by a violent knock at the door. Five men in soldiers’ uniforms rushed into the house. They tore us up out of the beds and forced us down on the floor. I was pressed down on top of my husband. Then they raped me, one after another, all the time with my husband under me. The kids were terrified, but were forced to watch, or they would be killed. Afterwards, they forced me into the woods. They raped me and beat me continuously for a week, before I managed to escape. I wandered terrified through the woods for a few days before I found home. My husband has not left me, but we are terribly poor because the soldiers stole our animals and burned down our house. I’m in pain and cannot work in the fields anymore.”

  • Jeanette Vumila, 30 years, Munakiri: ”Several soldiers stormed into our house one night. They raped me on the floor, one by one. Then they killed my husband and two of my six children. Before they disappeared they stabbed off both my hands. The children who survived are living with relatives today. Personally, I have nowhere to go, nowhere to live. I beg on the street to get food. I only want the world to help us to end this war, that there will be peace.”