Africa: rape epidemic in Congo war worsens


Each day, at least ten new women and girls who have been raped show up at one hospital in the Congo. Many have been so violently assaulted "from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair," according to this piece by Jeffrey Gettlemen in today's New York Times:

According to victims, one of the newest groups to emerge is called the Rastas, a mysterious gang of dreadlocked fugitives who live deep in the forest, wear shiny tracksuits and Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and are notorious for burning babies, kidnapping women and literally chopping up anybody who gets in their way.

United Nations officials said the so-called Rastas were once part of the Hutu militias who fled Rwanda after committing genocide there in 1994, but now it seems they have split off on their own and specialize in freelance cruelty.

Honorata Barinjibanwa, an 18-year-old woman with high cheekbones and downcast eyes, said she was kidnapped from a village that the Rastas raided in April and kept as a sex slave until August. Most of that time she was tied to a tree, and she still has rope marks ringing her delicate neck. The men would untie her for a few hours each day to gang-rape her, she said.

“I’m weak, I’m angry, and I don’t know how to restart my life,” she said from Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where she was taken after her captors freed her.

She is also pregnant.

Link. Photo: Honorata Barinjibanwa. (Hazel Thompson for The New York Times / Thanks, Susannah Breslin)

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