Cruel. Complex. Critical.
This is our Crisis.
Each year since the start of the Congo Wars in 1996, countless women and children have been raped and brutally assaulted. A deliberate tactic, the intention is to destroy communities by exerting power and influence.
Without healthcare and supportive intervention, the consequences for each woman and child can be devastating. They’re often left with nothing—no home, no community, and no help.
In all of the 200 languages spoken, the Democratic Republic of Congo didn’t even have a word for rape. Then the war started.
Gynecological traumas such as fistulas, tearing, and prolapses are sadly common. When not properly healed, these can lead to lifelong pain, incontinence, disfigurement, stigma, and the inability to have children.
85,000+ women suffering from fistulas or prolapse since 1999.
Psychological and spiritual trauma
In addition to physical pain, rape survivors understandably have symptoms of depression and PTSD—like extreme fear, eating and sleeping disorders, self-shame and blame, self-harm, and abandonment concerns.
“I can no longer do what I used to. I don’t enjoy anything. I live alone with the children and try to hold the burden myself.” — Ms. M, Survivor
“My husband just fled from me, saying, ‘you’ve been raped, so get out of my home.’ ”
– Ms. M, Survivor
Seclusion and stigma
Much like sexual assault survivors in the rest of the world, those in the DRC are often rejected by their families and communities. This separation and stigma keeps them from getting the support, love, opportunities—and even basic services—that they need.
Approximately 60% of women who seek treatment at Panzi can’t return to their homes.