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The recent violence between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Rwandan-backed March 23 Movement group (M23) has led to the tragic murders of the men, women and children of Congo and the sexual violence against women and girls.

For context, Eastern DRC has been at arms with Rwanda since the mid-’90s. While a truce was bound to happen between 2002 and 2003, M23’s power in Eastern DRC and Rwanda’s support for the rebel group shut down the peace treaty. That means, for years, the rebel group has killed, raped and tortured hundreds of Congo citizens. And it’s still happening today.

Numerous Congolese women impacted by M23’s act of violence have spoken out and shared their gruesome experiences of rape, unwanted pregnancies and more.

One woman, while holding her child, shared her story with video creator Joy Dale about how M23 soldiers killed and cooked her husband’s body, forcing her to eat him and raping her while she was pregnant.

“After they killed him, they cut off his legs and private parts,” she said. “They cooked the body parts and told me to eat it. They told me if I don’t sleep with all of them, they were going to kill me. So, I had to sleep with them. I was raped by four men when I was pregnant with this baby that I’m holding. I had no choice. They made me husband’s penis.”

Save the Children, a non-profit organization aimed at helping children, gained testimonies from numerous survivors, including a 15-year-old named Florence, who recalled getting raped by two men while attempting to flee her home.

“One of them took me by force, strangled me, and [they] raped me one after another. He had strangled me so much that I no longer had the strength to scream. Then they left,” Florence explained. “I was afraid and ashamed to tell this story to the couple who had welcomed me into their home – they were friends of my parents, and even when I arrived at my mother’s [I couldn’t say anything].”

Elvis Lyn Muke, a counselor psychologist with Heal Africa, explained to Save the Children just how brutal many of the girl’s and women’s experiences are and how M23’s sexual violence towards women and children has harmed them mentally and physically.

“Some survivors tell us several men raped them at the same time, and objects were used on them, such as knives, tree branches, and guns. Others have been raped on numerous occasions, during different armed displacements, return movements or in search of something to eat in their village.”

Elvis continued, “These girls are left with unwanted and very high-risk pregnancies. Some survivors, no longer wanting to bear it, have the urge to commit suicide. I work with the survivor so they know that what happened to them is not their fault. I establish jointly with the person or their relatives a safety plan to mitigate the risk of suicide.”

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