I am unashamedly a girl. What i mean by this is that, i love fashion magazines though i draw the line at Cosmopolitan. I like magazines that are smart with good articles as well as fashion and beauty news. So i read regularly Marie Claire and Glamour.
The September issue of American Glamour that has Queen Latifah, Claire Danes and Mariska Hargitay is one of the larger editions ever. So i settled down to consume this magazine in great detail.
There is an article in there titled "Women left for dead - and the man who's saving them" that brought me to tears.
This story is by Eve Ensler – author of The Vagina Monologues and it follows the activities of Dr Denis Mukwege who “repairs bodies and souls”. I have extracted some bits of this story but I must warn that they are pretty graphic.
Dr Mukwege runs Panzi Hospital in Eastern Congo and is an og-gyn. He says he first became aware of the epidemic of rape in 1996. “I saw women who had been raped in an extremely barbaric way. First women were raped in front of their children, husbands and neighbors. Second, the rapes were done by many men at the same time. Third, not only were the women raped, but their vaginas were mutilated by guns and sticks. These situations show that sex was being used as a weapon that is cheap”
Eve Ensler then proceeds to talk to a number of the women that now call Panzi Hospital home.
“I’m 29. I am from the village of Nindja. Normally there was insecurity in our area. We would hide many nights in the bush. The soldiers found us there. They killed our village chief and his children. We were 50 women. I was with 3 of my children and my older brother; they told him to have sex with me. He refused, so they cut his head and he died. Nadine’s body is trembling. She tells Eve how one of the soldiers forced her to drink his urine and eat his feces, how the soldiers killed 10 of her friends and then murdered her children: her 4 year old and 2 year old boys and her 1 year old girl. “They flung my baby’s body on the ground like she was garbage. One after another, they raped me. From that, my vagina and anus were ripped apart. One of the soldiers cut open a pregnant woman”, she says. “It was a mature baby and they killed it. They cooked it and forced us to eat it”
Incredibly, Nadine was the only one of the 50 women to escape. “When I got away from the soldiers, there was a man passing. He said ‘what is that bad smell?’. It was me; because of my wounds, I couldn’t control my urine or feces. I explained what happened. The man wept right there. He and some others brought me to Panzi Hospital” As Nadine fled the slaughter, she says, she saw an infant lying on the ground next to her slain parents. Nadine rescued the girl, now having a child to care for gives her reason to keep going.
Alfonsine’s story: She is thin and poised, profoundly calm. She tells me she was walking through the forest when she encountered a lone soldier. “He followed me and then forced me to lie down. He said he would kill me. I struggled with him hard; it went on for a long time. Then he went for his rifle, pressed it on the outside of my vagina and shot his entire cartridge into me. I just heard the voice of the bullets. My clothes were glued to me with blood. I passed out.
Dr Mukwege tells me, “I never saw such destruction. Her colon, bladder, vagina and rectum were basically gone. She had lost her mind. I was sure she wouldn’t make it. I rebuilt her bladder. Sometimes you don’t even know where you are going. I operated on her 6 times, and then I sent her to Ethiopia so they could heal the incontinence problem. And they did”
You can donate directly to the Panzi Hospital through vday.org. Money donated to Panzi also goes to establish a City of Joy, a safe haven for the healed women, where they’ll learn to become political leaders.
You can also write to His Excellency, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila Kabange; demand that he take action to stop the attacks on women. Send it to U.N Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, PO Box 3862, New York, NY 10163 and it will be delivered to Kabila.