Warning : this article contains some stories of violence against women that some readers may find upsetting.
Edouine Kirere has steely eyes that hint at deep inner resilience. When she speaks, she does so with a calm but fierce determination. Edouine has seen and heard so much, working on the frontlines to support women affected by violence in conflict.
Here in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Edouine runs services for women in the remote north eastern province of Ituri, which has been affected by decades of brutal armed conflict. Rape has been used widely as a tactic by armed groups, and happens with alarming frequency.
Edouine tells some shocking stories of the women affected by violence. Stories of women who have sought safety, support and refuge at the Karibu medical centre, run by SOFEPADI, Trócaire’s local partner organisation.
One woman came to seek support at the centre after surviving a horrific experience. She had travelled to work at her farm for the day along with her daughter and a cousin. That day there was an attack on her village by one of the many armed groups operating in the region.
Five men appeared at her farm. The men killed her cousin and repeatedly assaulted both herself and her daughter over the coming days.
Fortunately, one of the perpetrators eventually helped the two to escape. They came to the Karibu centre and are now being supported, with medical care as well as psychological support. The daughter is being supported by SOFEPADI so she can continue her education. The situation is even more challenging as both mother and daughter became pregnant as a result of their ordeal.