01 February 2012
DR Congo: AFPDE - Medical aid for female rape victims
AFPDE helps women who are in especially dire need of medical help. Because of the rapes, in which the perpetrators use objects such as sticks, hot plastic objects, and even pieces of broken glass, many of the women have vaginal and intestinal tears and cannot hold their urine or stool. Some of the women and young girls have had their uteruses and vaginas completely destroyed. Still others were infected with HIV.
For many rape victims, aid organisations such as AFPDE are often the only chance they have to obtain medical care. The women usually do not have the money to get to hospitals, which are far away. Their villages are often located in the midst of forests where they are inaccessible and there are neither roads nor telephones. AFPDE covers the expenses for travel to health centres as well as for treatments and medications. Women with particularly severe injuries are transported to hospitals in the cities of Kaniola, Walungu, and Bukavu.
Emotional support for women and girls
Nearly all of the patients have been severely traumatised and require psychological accompaniment and supportive care during their social rehabilitation. The criminal acts inflicted upon them, frequently in the presence of their families, have serious consequences for the victims. If a woman is raped, she is viewed as unclean and is usually ostracised by members of her family and her village community. On her own, she is then often exposed to even more violence. The AFPDE staff members give the victims a chance to talk about what they’ve been through – all women are visited on a regular basis in the hospital or at home. In some cases AFPDE has been successful in mediating between family members and women rape victims, and had them accepted back into their families.