This past October, PHR’s Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin and I had the opportunity to sit in on an appeals hearing in Kaléhé, a small village in South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a case concerning abduction, mass rape, sexual enslavement, and murder.
So often, stories of sexual violence leave one left with a debilitating sense of hopelessness and despair at the extent of the problem and the wide-ranging and enduring effects on survivors and their communities. For this year’s 16 Days Campaign, PHR is pleased to relay the hope, strength, and power that we’ve witnessed while traveling in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where mass rape in conflict situations has been so extreme.
Dr. Alumeti and Panzi Hospital: Symbols of Health and Hope for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Congo
Dr. Alumeti of Panzi Hospital, Congo, recounted to PHR staff his experience working with survivors of sexual violence at Panzi, his words holding promise for the thousands of women who survive rape at the hands of armed combatants in the dense forests and remote villages of eastern DRC.
Dr. Emily Rogena teaches forensic pathology at the University of Nairobi School of Medicine. Her soft voice and sweet smile belie a hard-nosed scientist who has worked for years to develop better systems to deal with sexual abuse, torture, and violence.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the political, economic, and social achievements of women around the world. To recognize this historic day, PHR is highlighting the enormous challenges we face in addressing mass rape in armed conflicts.