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"I Have No Joy, No Peace of Mind" Consequences of sexual violence in Eastern DRC

MEDICAL, PSYCHOSOCIAL, AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN EASTERN DRC

This booklet is dedicated to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and to all victims of the war. MSF would like to thank especially all victims of sexual violence who were willing to share their experiences so that MSF could help bring attention to their plight.

In the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, the town of Baraka and surrounding areas in South Kivu have been the scene of massive human suffering since the outbreak of war in 1996. Caught in a conflict in which various armed groups – Congolese, Rwandan and Burundian – have been fighting, the civilian population has been subjected to brutal killings, persecution and pillaging that has forced them into a cycle of displacement and extreme hardship. Deprived of access to health care and facing constant food insecurity, the people of Baraka have become an extremely vulnerable population abandoned by the international community. In August 2002, in a lull in the fighting, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) started to establish hospital services in Baraka during which the team was confronted with another horrific dimension of the war perpetrated by all warring parties against the civilian population – sexual violence.1 Rape and other forms of sexual violence have affected hundreds of women, girls and men of all ages. The true extent and magnitude of this terrible feature of war is only beginning to be seen today with the advances in the peace process in the DRC. 

All photos: Jodi Bieber