DRC: Enough is enough - International Women's Day 2004

In Bunia, sexual violence was used systematically as a weapon of war against women. The highest numbers were reached not only in May, during the clashes, but also in December, when the city was more or less calm but still dangerous due to 'ordinary' crime. In May, MSF set up its own clinic in Bunia and had started treating victims of sexual violence by the end of June. More and more women began to arrive at the clinic. Between July and December 2003 MSF treated around 822 patients. During consultations, women slowly open up and begin to tell their horrifying stories. The majority of victims are between 13 and 25 years old. About 27% of victims have been held for anywhere between two days and several months and abused as sexual or domestic slaves; some 45% of the women have endured group rape and 53% have been raped more than once; and 7% of the women have subsequently been rejected by their husbands or families. What these women have suffered and still endure severely affects their physical and mental health and both must be treated. At the MSF clinic the victims receive first aid and medical care and can talk for the first time about their experience. For further psychological treatment they are referred to the Centre d'Intervention Psychologique (CIP), an organisation who provides therapeutic follow-up.