SEXUAL VIOLENCE AS A WEAPON OF WAR
"There is real madness with all this [sexual] violence linked to the war. This is a whole war within the war-another kind of attack on the Congolese people," said a counselor who works with women and girls who have been subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence.52 Local observers remarked that such crimes increased in eastern Congo after the war began and particularly in the last year as the various warring parties contested control over such areas as that around the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Shabunda territory, and the Uvira-Fizi region in South Kivu, particularly following RPA troop redeployments from Pweto,53 as well as Masisi in North Kivu.
Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war by most of the forces involved in this conflict. Combatants of the RCD, Rwandan soldiers, as well as combatants of the forces opposed to them-Mai-Mai, armed groups of Rwandan Hutu, and Burundian rebels of the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (Forces pour la défense de la démocratie, FDD) and Front for National Liberation (Front pour la libération nationale, FNL)-all frequently and sometimes systematically raped women and girls in the last year.
Soldiers and combatants raped and otherwise abused women and girls as part of their effort to win and maintain control over civilians and the territory they inhabited. They attacked women and girls as representatives of their communities, intending through their injury and humiliation to terrorize the women themselves and many others. One sixteen-year-old girl who was raped told us, "There is no way to protect girls from these things. I know they didn't target me-any [woman] would have had the same thing happen-but this is unacceptable. There are many girls who live in these conditions."54
This report focuses on crimes of sexual violence committed by soldiers and irregular combatants. But rape and other sexual crimes are not just carried out by members of armed factions but also increasingly by others in positions of authority and power, including the police, and by opportunistic common criminals and bandits, taking advantage of the prevailing climate of impunity and culture of violence to abuse women and girls.55 For example in numerous cases, soldiers, other combatants, and armed robbers raped women in the course of robbing and looting, sometimes after stealing everything they owned and sometimes to punish them if they had had no goods worth stealing. While the acts of ordinary criminals are not examined in detail in this report, cases are documented of attacks by armed men when there are indications that the perpetrators might have been combatants. Such an indication can be the language of the attackers; Kinyarwanda-speaking attackers are likely to be either members of Rwandan armed groups or of the RPA. If attackers are well-armed, this can also indicate a link to armed groups or forces of a regular army. Some cases fit into a pattern of abuse against civilians carried out by combatants, such as attacks on villagers by night or armed robberies in the city of Goma, and are therefore also documented.
Women and girls who have been raped or otherwise attacked rarely identify the persons who committed the crimes. In many cases, the perpetrators were unknown to them and came from outside their communities. In other cases, particularly if the perpetrators believed they might be recognized, they tried to hide their identities by masking their faces or blinding the victims with lights. As one victim reported:
There was no light. We didn't even have petrol to light a lamp, and the only light was when they shined the flashlight in our eyes. I couldn't see well what they were wearing. They wore masks and hats. We couldn't see their faces.56
Sometimes survivors and witnesses were able to identify the group of soldiers or combatants with whom the perpetrators were affiliated. They knew which groups had been operating in their region and where they were based. This allowed them to make identifications based partly on the location of the crime. In some cases survivors and witnesses knew perpetrators represented a certain group because they revealed their allegiance through what they said: Mai-Mai rapists, for example, accused victims of links with the RCD or the RPA. In other cases, survivors and witnesses drew conclusions based partly on the timing of the attack: RCD and RPA soldiers raped women in reprisal attacks on villages after they had been attacked shortly before by locally-based armed groups. When the physical appearance of the assailants appeared to correspond to that characteristic of an ethnic or national group, survivors and witnesses sometimes identified the perpetrators as having been of that group. Victims and witnesses sometimes relied on the language spoken by perpetrators and even on regional or other nuances of accent. In other cases, survivors and witnesses provided information about patterns of behavior that suggested identifications: Mai-Mai, for example, often held abducted women for very long periods of time, a year or more, while other combatants seemed more likely to release abductees after a shorter period. Mai-Mai also seemed more likely to require women to perform sexual acts for a number of combatants in the group, while perpetrators from other armed groups more frequently "allocated" abducted women to individuals.
In a significant number of cases women and girls who had been attacked recognized the difficulty of giving a positive identification and said only that their assailants were "armed men in uniform" or, simply, "men in uniform."57 The uniforms worn by irregular combatants and soldiers are often similar, making it difficult to be sure which military unit or armed group is represented by the assailant. Physical appearances of assailants may also be insufficient to lead to identification based on the expected characteristic of one group and, even if such identification seems likely, it may in fact be wrong.58 When RPA troops were predominantly Tutsi, local people ordinarily concluded that speakers of Kinyarwanda who looked stereotypically Hutu were not part of the RPA but rather members of armed groups opposed to the RPA or local Congolese of Rwandan extraction. With the increase in the numbers of Hutu RPA soldiers in eastern Congo, they can no longer draw such conclusions with accuracy.59 Nor is language a sure indicator of group affiliation: many Congolese speak Kinyarwanda, for example.
In addition, perpetrators may try to confuse victims and witnesses by speaking languages that are not their habitual tongue. The counselor mentioned above commented, "There are military men who speak some Kinyarwanda to confuse people even if they are ordinarily Kiswahili speakers."60 In other cases, Congolese speakers of Kinyarwanda allegedly sought to hide their identity by speaking with a Rwandan accent. In some cases, assailants warned those present during the attack to identify them as members of another group. One woman said that armed, Kiswahili-speaking, uniformed Congolese soldiers who attacked her daughter specifically instructed the girl to say that they were "Interahamwe" and not from the RCD.61 According to the counselor who assists victims, they sometimes heed such warnings. He said, "Sometimes there may be cases of rape by the RCD but the girls say something else."62
In many places, individuals or small groups who have obtained arms commit crimes against local people, including crimes of sexual violence. Assailants include some who have deserted from one or another of the armed forces or groups of combatants operating in the region as well as others who have obtained firearms in other ways. A representative of a rural NGO assisting women told us that he and his colleagues used to think that it was Interahamwe who were responsible for rapes in their area, until is emerged that the attackers were soldiers, or Mai-Mai rebels, or deserters. He explained:
But we found that it was the children of our village. We caught three of them. They had come to steal in the village and the villagers beat drums, so we caught them. They hide. They have weapons and know the place. Sometimes they are army deserters. Some are Mai-Mai, some are soldiers. Generally they are young people-the young people of the neighborhood. They do nothing. They like to be smart, to smoke dope.63
Given the difficulties of accurate identification of perpetrators, some victims, witnesses, and others simply attributed crimes to members of those groups which they themselves disliked. According to one human rights activist, "Many say `Interahamwe' but it's hard to know if they are real or false Interahamwe. There is confusion."64 According to a Congolese lawyer, the RCD authorities also regularly attributed crimes to groups opposed to them. "Whenever there is something bad they blame it on the Mai-Mai or the Interahamwe."65
Such automatic and inaccurate accusations only ensure that many guilty assailants escape justice and encourage them and others to continue carrying out such crimes with impunity.
Sexual Violence in South Kivu
The larger cities and the main roads of South Kivu are controlled by Rwanda and the RCD but Mai-Mai forces and predominantly Hutu armed groups control or are fighting to control significant parts of the rest of the territory.
Rwandan Hutu rebel forces have been based in Kahuzi-Biega National Park for some time and have been accused of numerous attacks in adjacent areas, including in Bunyakiri, Kabare, Katana, and Walungu.66 They have killed, raped, and pillaged the property of civilians whom they accuse of supporting the RCD or Rwandan government forces. RCD and Rwandan army forces wreak the same kind of violence on the same people, accusing them of assisting the Rwandan Hutu groups or the Mai-Mai.
Local residents say that attacks on civilians began after Rwandan refugees camps were destroyed in 1996 and the people who lived in them, including Interahamwe and ex-FAR, were scattered in the area. "We were fine during the time the refugees were here. But after the refugees left the camps, there were abahinzi (foreigners) and Interahamwe in the forest," said the representative of a women's organization whose members come from villages like Kajeje, Murhesa, and Kalonge, close to Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
In August 1998 Mathilde V. was in Chivanga, near Kavumu, when Rwandan Hutu combatants who said they were Interahamwe attacked the village at dawn as part of their ongoing struggle with RCD and RPA soldiers. "The Hutu had come to chase the Tutsi who occupied the area and who had just received supplies of ammunition," she explained. The assailants forced the women to line up and carry their loads of loot and ammunition to their base. Mathilde V. was two months pregnant and felt weak on the long walk towards Bunyakiri. The Interahamwe accused Mathilde V. of being the wife of a RCD or RPA soldier because she looked well-coiffed and well off and they accused others of having looted belongings from the refugee camps in 1996 and 1997. As the assailants accompanied the women down a path in the forest, they threw them to the ground and raped them. That day Mathilde V. and two others from her family were raped.
Following the rape she took traditional medicine believed to help pregnant women to protect themselves and the fetus if they suspected that their husbands had had another sexual partner. In her case, she took the medicine to protect herself against a sexually transmitted disease from the rape. When she later had difficulties in childbirth, she did not tell her doctor that she had been raped.67
Members of the predominantly Hutu armed groups preyed particularly upon women who passed near their forest bases as they were going to work in the fields, to collect firewood or charcoal, or to market. As a representative of the women's group said:
For us, it's a three-hour walk from where we live to the forest. In Kalonge people live from [making and selling] charcoal. There are no vehicles for transporting charcoal.68 It is usually transported on the backs of women...Women have to go through the forest when they're carrying charcoal or going for food and then they're attacked...now we live in fear.69
Our team spoke with several women and girls in this area who had been abducted by armed Hutu, raped repeatedly, and forced to work for their captors. Générose N., from Kabare, aged twenty, told us what happened when she was on her way to visit her older sister:
I was on the road from Kalonge to Mudaka. I had money that my fiancé gave me to buy a wedding dress. A soldier attacked me on the road. He said things in Kinyarwanda. [Later she said he was Hutu]. He took me away to a place in the forest where there were three other soldiers. They roughed me up.
This was August 8  and they kept me until August 25 and each one of them raped me every day.
There wasn't a house as such but a shelter under some plastic sheeting. I ate the things that they stole from time to time-pâte [a kind of cassava dough] made from stolen flour and sometimes meat. I found out that they had another woman there before me and I was sleeping where she slept, and then later they would get another woman after me. I wore the same clothes all the time.
If I tried to speak, they hit me. They were all the same-horrible men.
They finally just sent me away when they were tired of me. They took away the clothes I was wearing and gave me rags.
I went to a health center that treats rape victims and got medicine. The Lord is the only one who can help me. He saved me from being killed; there is nowhere else to turn.
They took my money for the wedding dress. My fiancé will still accept me even though now I have nothing. I didn't want to tell anyone about this, but I had to tell him because I was gone such a long time. And because I was gone such a long time, people talk about this even though I haven't told anyone else what happened.
Générose N. concluded that she did not see herself as particularly brave; "...it's just that I have no choice but to keep going. I don't have anything now," she said.70
In some cases armed assailants abducted women and girls in the course of robberies, forced them to carry the stolen goods to their bases, and then raped them there. Georgette W., mother of a six-year-old and a baby just a year and a half, related how she was abducted from Kajeje:
It was an evening in June. I could hear that the soldiers [meaning armed men] were pillaging in the area. When they came to our house, I ran to protect myself. Every night they came around pillaging. But that night, after I ran, it started to rain. To get in from the rain, I decided to go back to the house.
By then there were a lot of other people also seeking shelter from the rain-there were about eighteen of us, mostly neighbors and many old people. But the soldiers came and they were all around. There were a lot of them-I can't say how many; I could only hear their voices. I saw that everything in the house was stolen. My baby was on my back. Four combatants entered the house. They spoke Kinyarwanda. They were all armed. They took my baby away from me. I was the youngest woman in the house. They left the older women behind and took me.
The four soldiers made me carry the things they had stolen on my back. Then later we met up with others and they gave the load on my back to a man they had captured. But I walked with the four who took me from the house. We walked in the forest from about 10 p.m. to midnight. I didn't know the place. Then I was alone with one of them. I later found out that the three others went off each with one woman they had captured.
I was raped three times [by the one soldier]. He was armed the whole time. He didn't say anything and I didn't say anything. Finally he took off at about 3 in the morning. I was afraid to walk, but slowly I went back home and got there about 7:30.
Asked how her husband treated her when she got home, Georgette W. replied:
Georgette W. said, "They hit me while we were walking, but they had already hit me at the house, so the neighbors already saw that [and were not surprised at her injuries]." She concluded: "I don't know why they did this. They took everything we had. . . all our things and our three goats, and they did this anyway."71
In May 2001, armed men attacked the village of Marie G., a twenty-year-old woman who was a charcoal seller from Kabare territory, and looted and burned many homes.72 Marie G. fled, along with others. Having lost all her belongings, she went to Kalonge to get some charcoal to sell in order to buy clothes. When there she was abducted one night by three Rwandan members of a predominantly Hutu armed group who came to the house where she was staying at around 8 p.m. When Marie G. resisted being taken away, they beat her on the arm and shoulder, which still gave her pain when she was interviewed by our researchers five months later. She offered the assailants a goat if they would leave her alone but they turned down the offer saying they needed girls. She was joined by two girls who had been captured that same day while on their way to buy charcoal in Kalonge, Chantal R., aged seventeen, and Josephine A., aged eighteen, who were also interviewed by our team.73 The assailants made them carry some of their stolen goods and walk with them to their forest camp where they arrived late at night. There they were told they had to cook and prepare a bed with grass and a sheet of plastic.
The three abductees said the men were called Lukala, Nyeka, and Vianney. They were dressed in civilian clothes and were armed with guns and machetes. Among themselves they spoke Kinyarwanda; with the girls they spoke Kiswahili.
Each of the combatants took one of them. It was Lukala who demanded sex from Marie G. and told her that if she did not "give herself" to him, she would have to stay with them. She refused. Lukala told her: "You are no better than my wife and she was shot dead." Marie G. answered that he should just kill her. She heard the other two girls screaming. "I heard my companions crying," she said, "so I refused. The man said to me, `They have already begun working-why are you creating problems for me?'" He slapped her and after her companions called out to her, "Accept it; there's nothing you can do," and he raped her for the first of many times.
"So I let him do it. He made me suffer greatly," Marie G. said and continued that she asked him why he made others suffer. "He answered, "That is the job of a soldier." He told Marie G. that he had had many women but that none was as terrible (that is, resistant) as she was. He threatened to shoot her and after several hours began to rape her again. He raped her five times during the first night.
After that night, Vianney, leader of the group, also wanted to "have" her. After a dispute with Lukala over this, she spent the second night with Vianney. He told her that he was going to be much nicer to her than Lukala and that she only would have to sleep with him once per night and could then sleep. She told him it was not easy for her to sleep in the circumstances.
Frightened and afraid of being traced later, Marie G. did not give them her real name. She also lied to her captors, claiming that she had two children, and begged to be released. Vianney told her he could release her only if Lukala agreed. She appealed to Vianney's moral sense by telling him that he would not want members of his own family treated this way. The assailants let Marie G. go after three days and kept one of her companions for five days and the other for a week.74
A short time later, in early June 2001, the same three assailants captured two young women, eighteen-year-old Cécile K. and twenty-year-old Béatrice K. in a nighttime raid on their home and held them for two to three weeks. Béatrice K. said she hid under her bed when her home was attacked but that the men found her by using their flashlights. They accused her of being a "friend of the Tutsi." They told her they had had to leave their families behind in Rwanda but that she was still fortunate enough to have her parents. "When I cried, they hit me," she said.75 A week or so after their capture, the assailants abducted seventeen-year-old Valerie J. from her home. When she cried, they told her, "You are not going to change the situation with your tears. You are not more important than those we have left behind in Rwanda."76
The captors raped the girls repeatedly and made them cook and do other household work. It appears that this group of men had abducted many women and girls before, one of them claiming that they had had forty women.77 At one stage they took Valerie J., Béatrice K. and Cécile K. to find other women or girls for them but the village they went to was deserted and so none was taken. According to Béatrice K., escape was impossible because they were guarded all the time and they did not know where they were. Three weeks after the capture of Beatrice and Cecile and one week after Valerie J. was taken, one of the captors released the girls because his two companions had been killed. Marie G. said that she had heard that the two had "been killed by Tutsi on the road to Kalonge." Cécile K. said that "Tutsi soldiers" later came to her village and told her they had killed the third man.
According to the girls, the three men said they were receiving orders from a "commander" but they believed this was a ruse to intimidate them. The three men were never together with any others and had no radios or mobile phones, which indicates that they might have been acting independently of other Hutu forces in the area. Over a period of several weeks, they moved several times within the forest, perhaps because they were aware that RCD troops were pursuing them.
A representative of a women's organization explained that sexual violence had increased recently, in part because assailants found little to rob from people who had been repeatedly attacked, and wanted to punish them as a result for their perceived lack of support.
Various armed bands have been through our area; there has been a great deal of pillaging...people are really left with nothing and in some cases they have been displaced. Since there is nothing left to steal, the armed bands have taken up this systematic rape....There were rapes before this year, but people didn't talk about it. Finally it got to be so much that we went to the parish and with its help, we have had the courage to speak about this.78
Twenty-five-year-old Elisabeth S. from Walungu territory was raped by armed men who came to rob her home in January 2001. She said,
It started at 1 a.m. We were all sleeping. I heard the noise and was the first to wake up. There were ten of them-I could see them and count them. They came into the compound. I wanted to hide but I couldn't. They said, "Give us your money." Then they said, "Get us your father" and told me to wake everyone up. I told them there was no one here. But then my father got up and turned on the flashlight. The combatants could see the light and said, "Who's that with the flashlight?" Two of the combatants who were very well armed were near me. I don't know how, but my father was able to escape by running very fast between the two of them. One said to me, "We're going to kill you for letting him get away."
The leader told the others to shoot Papa. We were all praying. I thought they were going to kill us all too. My mother didn't know whether to run with Papa. But she hid under the bed and was praying with her rosary. Mama was able to run and got away when some other soldiers came into the house.
They kept me, my two sisters, and another girl who was staying with us sitting on the ground outside-there were two of them watching us. There was another one in the house. They took everything and asked us what else the family had. We said the only thing left is the clothes we are wearing; everything else is in the house. They left the goats and chickens but took everything else.
I thought if the Lord says it's our time, this is when we will die. The combatants said, "We can kill you," and shot in the air four times to show what they could do. There was another girl who stayed with us, an orphan, who usually slept with me, but she was alone in another small house that night. She saw us outside, but somehow she didn't see the combatants. I could see her coming slowly toward us and I wondered what she was doing. I couldn't keep her from coming-she came up to us slowly and then said, "What is happening?" Even though the moon was bright, she still didn't see the combatants. But they saw her, and they caught her and beat her, kicked her, and whipped her with a rope. She said she would rather be killed than suffer with them. But then they threw her on the ground with the rest of us.
The assailants then raped each of the five girls. The youngest was fourteen years old.
Each combatant took one of us to one of the small houses outside the compound. There was no way to resist. They spoke Kinyarwanda and Lingala-they were both Congolese and Interahamwe. They gave themselves names like Kofi and Bamba. It didn't take too long.
I think they didn't need to kill us; they did what they wanted to do. They stole everything and went away at about 4 a.m.. Then Papa came home. We thought he was dead, so when we saw him, we were so happy. None of the shots had hit him. We stayed home the rest of that night, but the next night no one would sleep there.
I go back to our village sometimes, but I don't sleep well when I'm there. The neighbors know that we were robbed, but they don't know about what happened to me.79
While combatants opposed to the RCD are most often accused of the sexual violence reported around Kahuzi-Biega National Park, RCD soldiers have also attacked women and girls. Bijou K., a young mother, told us that she was raped by a Kinyarwanda-speaking RCD soldier on a road in Kabare territory. She said:
This was in June 2001. I left my house in the evening to buy food for my children. A soldier attacked me and pushed me off the road. He asked me in Kinyarwanda for my identity card. He wore a uniform and had a rifle.
He threw me into the bushes. My baby, who was one month and one week old, was on my back. He threw the baby off my back-the baby was on his stomach on the ground-and put a gun to my chest.
When I reached to save my baby, he took off my clothes and raped me. It happened fast; he wasn't there a long time. Afterwards, he took off.
I picked up the baby and went home. I told my husband what happened. I had just had a baby and I needed help. I was treated [at a clinic]. It turns out that I got a sexually transmitted disease, and now my husband has it too. I also have skin rashes, and I'm using local medicine for that.
I don't think I was especially targeted by this soldier. So many other people have been attacked too.80
Fifteen-year-old Jeanette T. described how soldiers whom she described as Tutsi kidnapped her sisters in Ngwesha outside Bukavu:
It was April 25, 2001. I was in the village with my family. My father had sold a chicken. Men came during that same night and told him to give them the money from selling the chicken. Our family [Jeanette T., her parents, and her three unmarried sisters, aged between eighteen and twenty-two] was all around the fire. They cut my father with knives. There were lots of them. Our whole compound was full of soldiers. They had knives and guns. They spoke some Lingala and some Kinyarwanda. They raped my sisters and my mother, but I was able to run. They took everything that was in our house. I hid behind some trees on a hill a bit above the house.
They took away my sisters and we still don't know where they are. There were five or six men with each of my sisters. The next morning I went back to the house. I found my father there still injured with a neighbor who was trying to help him. After three days, my mother came back. But we still don't know where my sisters are.
My father wanted to go and find them and tried to get help, but the neighbors said that he if did that the Tutsi would exterminate the whole family. Now we are in Bukavu and some of the family of our old neighbors have helped us a little but we don't even have clothes. There was no reason to target my father who is a good Christian man. We will keep asking people about whether they have seen my sisters.81
The data gathered by our researchers on rape and other sexual abuse in the area around the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was consistent with that collected independently by two local human rights organizations. The Congolese women's rights association PAIF registered sixty-nine cases of rape by predominantly Hutu armed bands and by RCD soldiers in the Irhambi-Katana area of Kabare territory between May 1999 and September 2001. A second organization reported that "men in uniform identified as Interahamwe" killed, raped, and pillaged so frequently in villages near the Kahuzi-Biega National Park that residents had abandoned their homes to sleep outside in the search for security. 82
Shabunda town, 350 kilometers southwest of Bukavu in the territory of Shabunda, is strategically located for controlling the east of the province and its vast mineral wealth. The town is surrounded on three sides by the Ulindi River, beyond which thick equatorial forest stretches for hundreds of kilometers. Residents of the town, like people who inhabit nearby villages, depend on the forest for most of the necessities of life: they grow crops and hunt and gather food and firewood there. Given the distance from other centers and the poor state of the roads, Shabunda imports few supplies from the outside and those brought in usually come by air. Mai-Mai and Hutu armed groups have fought the RCD and their RPA allies for control of this region since late 1998. With the ongoing conflict the town has become increasingly isolated. In late 2001 it had the atmosphere of an embattled fortress.
Mai-Mai have been able to occupy the town only occasionally and briefly, such as in early 2000, but they control much of the surrounding forest. As the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, "Shabunda town is the only place, in the whole territory where one has access to population without the danger of interference from armed bands."83
As fighting increased in early 1999, nearly half the population of Shabunda town fled-most of it to the forest-reducing the number of inhabitants from more than 32,000 in 1998 to 17,600 in early 1999. Residents of nearby villages also sought refuge in the forest.84 One international humanitarian association working in the area estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of the displaced persons are in households headed by women.85
In their struggle to control territory, each side used violence, including violence against women and girls, to win or keep control over the local population. Residents who fled to the forest when the Mai-Mai advanced hesitated to return afterwards to homes in areas where the RCD had regained control, fearing the RCD would see them as supporters of the Mai-Mai and take reprisals against them. Others wished to return home but feared attack by Mai-Mai if they tried to do so. To hurry their return, the RCD reportedly announced in a public meeting that civilians who did not come back from the forest would be considered enemies and subject to attack. For a period the RCD soldiers prohibited town residents from going to cultivate fields and to gather food and wood in the forest-or limited the times when they could do so-apparently hoping thus to impede any collaboration between them and the Mai-Mai.86
In March 2001 RCD troops organized a Local Defense Force, an armed, minimally-trained paramilitary force that is recruited in the area and continues to live at home while carrying out patrols and other military duties. Each household in the community is required to contribute two glassfuls of rice every two days to support the Local Defense Force.87 During 2001 RCD troops and members of the Local Defense Force started going into the forest to find and escort groups of displaced persons to their homes or to new locations designated by the RCD authorities. Those who wanted to leave the forest but feared Mai-Mai attack welcomed the assistance of the RCD and the Local Defense Force.88
Shabunda town is exceptional for the number of women and girls who have admitted publicly to having been raped, most of them by Mai-Mai. The governor of South Kivu estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 women and girls had been raped between late 1999 and mid-2001 and a religious congregation reported having assisted some 2,000 raped women and girls.89 International aid workers active in the area told our researchers that such figures were plausible and probably underestimated. As one humanitarian aid worker commented: "Whatever the number, it's a systematic pattern of abuse."90 According to many local and international observers, it is not the number of rapes but rather the willingness of the victims to talk about them which is unique to Shabunda; they believe that the crimes are as widespread elsewhere in eastern Congo but remain partly hidden by the continuing reluctance of women to speak out.
"In Shabunda [town], the women have had the courage to speak out. In other places they don't," a nurse with an international agency who has worked extensively in South Kivu told us.91 One of the reasons cited for this relative openness is that many women and girls were raped in the presence of others. Family members, friends, or other captured women were forced to watch. In several cases, children were reportedly forced to hold their mothers down while they were raped. In addition, many women abducted by the Mai-Mai were held for long periods, up to a year and a half. Women and girls returning home after being held for so long were generally assumed to have been raped and most saw no reason to pretend otherwise. Other women and girls came back with obvious injuries that could only have been inflicted in sexual assaults. Sometimes women and girls were raped with objects such as sticks of wood and hot peppers.92 Many women and girls required medical attention for prolapsed uteruses, severe vaginal tears and fistulas93. Some women and girls also became pregnant as a result of having been raped.
Other circumstances have apparently contributed to the willingness of women and girls in Shabunda to speak about rapes and other sexual abuse which they have suffered. A support group assists victims, one of the few operating in the region, and an international aid organization has experimented with treating women and girls free of charge for rape-related injuries and complications. RCD authorities see political advantage in drawing attention to rapes and other abuses committed by their opponents. The governor of the province has encouraged humanitarian organizations and journalists to examine the problem. The majority of women and girls described those who raped them as "Mai-Mai," a term which can mean simply members of the local population. As a priest from the territory of Shabunda commented: "Who are the Mai-Mai? They are the people from here...the youth from around here, the Interahamwe. All are Mai-Mai against the invaders-the RCD."94 While Mai-Mai may be "against the invaders," this does not necessarily mean they seek to protect the local population-sometimes the opposite-particularly if they believe the local population has cooperated with the RCD.
Sophie W., a mother in her mid-thirties, said she was taken by Mai-Mai in July, 2000 and was held for over a year with her four children, aged six, ten, and thirteen, and a baby who was still breast-feeding. She told us that her family was targeted in part because the Mai-Mai thought her husband was linked with the RCD:
We went into the forest at the beginning of the war. My husband thought the forest was safer, and there was nothing to eat in town. But we moved back to town in 2000. In July 2000 the Mai-Mai came and took my husband. They beat me up and shot him and then cut up his body in front of me. They said my husband was a spy for the Tutsi.
There were eight Mai-Mai. Two of them held me down and the others raped me. They put two knives to my eyes and told me that if I cried, they would cut out my eyes.
The Mai-Mai spoke Kiswahili, Kilenga, Lingala, and Kinyarwanda. They were filthy-they had fleas. We had no shelter. There were only leaves to sleep on, and when it rained, we got soaked. We had mats with us, but the Mai-Mai took them away. There were many of them during the time I was in the forest-even 150 or more. They sometimes fed us small animals that they killed, but they didn't give us much food.95
Mai-Mai sometimes killed and raped local people who it held had shown an acceptance of RCD authority by leaving the forest. In one such case in early September 2001, Mai-Mai attacked a group who had left the forest shortly before under RCD escort and who were gathered for worship in a church in a Masanga village, about forty kilometers from Shabunda. Natalie R., a survivor of the attack who was herself raped, told us that forty-three bodies were found in the vicinity after the attack. She had been in the forest with her family near Minoro, a village about fifty-five kilometers from Shabunda. Her husband had been taken a year previously by the Mai-Mai and she has not seen him since:
After we had been near Minoro for about two years, the RCD came and took a lot of the families who were in the forest and resettled us in Masanga. In our case, a boy who knew us told the RCD where we were and they came to find us. But before they settled us in Masanga, the RCD pillaged our homes and took everything.
We were in Masanga a short time-maybe two weeks-when a lot of the Christian families who had been in the forest went to the early mass at Masanga parish. We had been in the forest a long time and were looking forward to going to mass.
This was the 8:30 a.m. mass. I was there with my five children, but only the three girls came inside. The two boys were hanging around outside with some other children. It was about 10:30 and the church was still full. All of a sudden we heard shots coming from all over. Some were individual shots, but there was one automatic weapon. [She imitated the sound of it.] Four people were shot in the church-two women and two children.
There were a lot of Mai-Mai outside the church. People tried to run, but there was such a panic that the door was blocked by the crowd. Some people did manage to run. Of those, some escaped to the forest, which is close to Masanga. Some were shot but managed to get to the forest where they died. Some were shot near the church or died before they got to the forest. When we went to collect the dead after the Mai-Mai left, we found twenty-seven dead in the forest and twelve dead near the church in addition to the four who were killed in the church. My two sons managed to flee, and they were not hurt.
After some people ran, six Mai-Mai came into the church. They were armed. They wore uniforms and masks and had animal skins on their heads. They were very dirty. There were some Batembo, some Bakongo, and some Bahutu.96 There were not many of us left in the church by then-four women, three older women, and me-and some children. The soldiers raped all four of us. They hit me with a stick twice. They said we were stupid for obeying the RCD and said they would save the Congolese people. They were in the church for about thirty minutes and then took off.
The other women who were raped were old, and they can't speak of it. I have no one to help me, and I have nothing left. There is no health facility in Masanga, so I couldn't get medical help. I still have a lot of pain, but I am menstruating [indicating that she does not believe she is pregnant].97
Mai-Mai preyed upon women who sought safety by moving temporarily to the forest as well as those who remained in town but continued to go to the forest to cultivate, seek food, or make charcoal to keep themselves and their families alive.98 At one time RCD troops required local people to gather firewood for them and this too forced women to take the risk of going into the forest.99
A U.N. official said that women and girls in Shabunda, like those who live from the charcoal trade in Kahuzi-Biega National Park "are very vulnerable for reasons having to do with livelihood and survival. They are the ones who go looking for wood, food, fruits, and they are taken when they are doing that. But they have to keep doing it even after they are raped."100 And after being displaced and often unable to cultivate normally for three seasons, the population is desperate.101
Solange C., a fifty-year-old mother of four, was working in her field in the forest with her children and her mother when they were attacked early one morning in April 2000.
There were seven men with us too, helping to work the fields. A group of Mai-Mai came upon us. The men heard them coming and they all ran.
There were eight of them. They made a circle around me. They held my feet up and opened my legs and raped me. They said that if they found the men who ran away, they would eat them.
The two men in charge were wearing uniforms. The others were in dirty rags. They had animal skins and feathers on their heads, and around their neck they carried the drug that they say makes them strong. I could really only see their eyes; everything else was hidden. They acted crazy as though they were drugged.
Solange C. explained that the attackers took everything from her little banana leaf shelter in the forest. Her neighbors came to her assistance when they heard that the Mai-Mai had gone. She took some traditional medicines from the forest that her mother knew of, "the kind they give to girls who are just beginning to menstruate." That helped a bit, she said, but she continues to have pain. She continued to live in the forest for one year and one month and on occasion was obliged to labor for the Mai-Mai. Describing her living conditions during that time Solange C. said:
I ate manioc during that time or leaves without any oil or salt. I used papaya leaves [to wash myself] because there was no soap. They [the Mai-Mai] were full of fleas, so we got fleabites and scabies. We just slept on leaves with no shelter. Sometimes we had a fire to keep us warm. The children got sick and I gave them medicines that I could find in the forest. Only the strength of God saved us during all this. Finally, the Local Defense Force and the RCD found some other people and then found my family. Somebody told them where we were-and they said that when we heard gunfire, we should follow the sound and come to them. That's what we did. About thirty people came out with us in that way."102
Our research team also spoke with a man whose wife had been taken by the Mai-Mai in June of 2001. He remains in Shabunda with their two young children. His wife has not been seen since but some other women who had likewise been kidnapped had escaped with the help of the Local Defense Force and the RCD and gave him news of his wife. They told him that she had been taken by the Mai-Mai even deeper into the forest.103
In addition, some of the women and girls of Shabunda said that their assailants had been young men from local villages or bandits from the area who simply used the name Mai-Mai to cover their crimes. In June 2001 Angélique H. was raped on her way to work her field near her village about forty kilometers from Shabunda. She referred to the three rapists as Mai-Mai but also said that she recognized them as coming from her village. She said: "Everyone is Mai-Mai. At the beginning they were good, but then they became bad."104 In April 2001 Lisa T. was raped by five men she called Mai-Mai when she went to her field to get manioc. She did not know them but said that they were "boys from the village." She said that she dared not accuse them because one day they could come after her if she did.105
Several witnesses told us that RCD and RPA soldiers had also committed rapes but that no one dared speak openly about them.106 Although the authorities encourage reporting of rapes perpetrated by the Mai-Mai or by predominantly Hutu armed groups, they do not encourage reports about violence committed by their own or their patron's troops. In some cases, the civilian authorities themselves fear the RCD and the Rwandan army, which have a strong presence in Shabunda town. As a resident of Shabunda told our team, "The allies justify their presence by what is going on. The authorities don't want the Rwandans here but they don't have the courage to say so. No authority is capable of leading-they have no conscience."107
For several years RCD forces and their allies, the Rwandan and Burundian armies, have battled Mai-Mai and the Burundian rebel forces, FDD and FNL, for control of Fizi and Uvira territories. The RCD, RPA, and Burundian army units allied to them control parts of the plain along Lake Tanganyika and the Rusizi River, including the city of Uvira, some towns to its north, and the main road linking these points. Mai-Mai and their allies have kept the RCD out of most of the mountainous area of Uvira and Fizi territories. The RCD nominally controls the highlands inhabited by the Banyamulenge, but it recently fought a rebellion led by a Banyamulenge militia in this region.
The warring parties currently fight over much of the region from Uvira south to Fizi along Lake Tanganyika, an area which has been contested for some time. Local human rights organizations have reported serious violations of international humanitarian law, including naval bombardment of villages along the lakeshore by Burundian government forces allied to the RCD, and massacres of civilians.108
Because contending forces sometimes seek to demonstrate control over the roads by ambushing travelers, residents of the area travel less now than in the past. Women and girls are the main local traders. Afraid of rape as well as death should they venture along the roads, they have almost stopped trading between Uvira and Fizi as well as between Uvira and the mid-plateau. Fewer locally produced goods from Fizi, such as manioc, charcoal, palm nuts, and fish reach Uvira and fewer imported goods from Uvira, such as gas, clothes, sugar, beer, soap, and salt are delivered to Fizi. Salt and soap are in short supply in some areas. Fishing activities on the lake have decreased because equipment has been looted and many fishermen have left or been killed. The number of widows and orphans has risen. With the decrease in trade and a corresponding decrease in income, fewer families can afford to send their children to school; many can only afford to eat once a day.109
In mid-2001 RPA troops redeployed from Pweto led more vigorous fighting against Mai-Mai and the Burundian rebel group FDD110 which, working out from its base on the Ubwari peninsula, had taken towns between Uvira and Fizi and controlled much of the road in between the two cities. In early September, Mai-Mai forces advanced towards Fizi and occupied the city for several weeks with the help of the FDD and FNL. By October the RCD had retaken Fizi and other towns to the south, driving back the Mai-Mai forces. Thousands of displaced persons fled to Baraka and Uvira and others crossed the border to Tanzania.
As elsewhere in eastern Congo, the number of rapes in this region increased with the surge in military activities. Among persons displaced by combat between RCD and Mai-Mai and FDD forces beginning in mid-2001, women and girls from Swima, Mboko, Kabumbe and Kazimia reported having been raped during or soon after military engagements. For example one elderly woman said her daughter-in-law was raped in August 2001 by three soldiers whom she described as "Banyamulenge" when they tried to return to their home in Kabumbe after having fled combat between RCD and Mai-Mai.111
Thirty-eight-year-old Viviane M. left Kabumbe on October 23, 2001 because of continued fighting between the RCD and the Mai-Mai. Mai-Mai attacked an RCD position and then entered the village and began looting the houses. Viviane M. fled with her family as RCD reinforcements were bought in from nearby positions. Hiding in the forested area in the hills above the town, she heard sounds of combat for several days. Some Mai-Mai forces took advantage of the vulnerability of the displaced people and robbed them of everything of value. In the following days Mai-Mai found where they were hiding and raped the girls and women. Viviane M. described how a group of Mai-Mai demanded that she give them all her money. Upon discovering that she had nothing, they stripped off her clothing, beat her with the butts of their rifles, and three of them raped her in succession. Some of them raped her fourteen-year- old daughter before her eyes.112
Marceline G. also fled Kabumbe during the same period. During her stay in the forest, some Mai-Mai forces located their hiding place and forced the men to accompany them to loot an abandoned village nearby. During their absence, other Mai-Mai and FDD combatants raped the women and girls who were left behind and beat some of them with clubs and rifles. Several witnesses testified that the forces were under a Mai-Mai leader named Bwasakala.113
Between July and September 2001, a human rights organization from Uvira registered 117 cases of sexual violence against women and girls. Most of the attacks occurred in Fizi territory during recent fighting and most were perpetrated by FDD or RCD forces. The victims included girls as young as eleven years old, several pregnant women, and elderly women. The organization also documented several cases in which women were shot because they protested the rape of their daughters. According to the organization, RCD soldiers raped and then killed five women on August 5, 2001 in Lusambo, fifteen kilometers north of Mboko, in Fizi territory.114
Another association reported rapes of women and girls by RCD troops and FDD and Mai-Mai combatants in the villages of Kabumbe, Kalundja, Lusambo, Swima and Munene. Some of the women were raped in front of their husbands and/or their children, and some were killed after the rape. As in the cases above, many of the rapes were perpetrated on displaced women and soon after military engagements.115 Local human rights groups have also reported that RCD, Banyamulenge, FDD, Burundian army, and RPA forces have raped women and girls in and around Uvira. Some of the women and girls became pregnant after the rape, and some had miscarriages.116 Several local observers in Uvira commented that incidents of sexual violence were more frequent in areas controlled by the RCD than those occupied by their Burundian allies.117
Soldiers and other combatants also attacked and raped women whom they found in their fields. On May 20, 2001, RCD soldiers raped Linette P., a forty-three-year-old peanut seller and divorced mother of two. She had gone to her field where she cultivates manioc, corn, and peanuts towards Kiliba (north of Uvira). It had looked like rain so few others had gone to cultivate. She was alone when she left the field in the middle of the afternoon and was set upon by soldiers who came from the mountains where they had been fighting. "They said, `Come here, we have spent many days without women, you are going to be our wife,'" Linette P. related. Two of the soldiers raped her in the field and then climbed into a military vehicle with the others and drove away.118
Albertine W., an eighteen-year-old with two children, was raped by an RCD soldier in August 2001 near Mboko, Fizi territory. She was working in the field with her mother-in-law when the soldier approached and raped her. She said, "It went very quickly, and the soldier did not otherwise abuse me." She reported that many other women and girls were also raped by RCD soldiers. As a consequence, the family decided to leave their village and go into the mountains, which are controlled by the Mai-Mai.119
Colette F., a forty-five year old mother of nine, was raped three years ago by two soldiers in her field in Munanira, about 5 kilometers from Uvira. At about 8 a.m., she suddenly saw many people running and four soldiers coming down a hill. When the soldiers caught up to her, they told her and another woman to come carry their baggage. As she and the other woman approached, the soldiers grabbed them, threw them down, and raped them. One of the soldiers held her at gunpoint while the other raped her. Each of the two women was raped by two soldiers who then told them, "If you tell this in the village, we will kill you." Colette F. believes that the assailants were Banyamulenge or Rwandan-she said she cannot tell the difference. Asked about judicial redress, she answered: "Here you can't take [these things] to court. There are those who are strong, and we are scared of them."120
Burundian Hutu rebels have reportedly abducted Congolese girls and women to provide them with sexual services and daily labor in their camps, including those in the Rukoko, a forested area in the Rusizi plain, on the Burundian side of the border. Twenty-year-old Agathe T. managed to escape such a fate. She said that the rebels often attack her home area of Nyango, twelve kilometers from Sange. They come looking for money and beat people up if they have nothing to give them, she said, and sometimes they take women and girls away with them. In early October 2001, Burundian Hutu rebels, in uniform and speaking Kirundi, tried to kidnap Agathe T. but she managed to escape through a window. They caught and raped other women and girls, among them her eighteen-year-old sister who were abducted for a week in a village called Sasira in Burundi on the other side of the Rusizi river. She was given to one of the soldiers as his "wife" and lived under a temporary shelter made from a sheet of plastic.121
In October 2001 a farmer from Sange told Human Rights Watch researchers that his wife had been raped only a few days earlier. Burundian rebels he believes to have been FNL forces attacked his house on October 26. There were four men, two of whom took him into the bush and threatened him, while two others took his wife to another place in the bush and raped her.122
Local people attributed a food shortage in Uvira in late 2001 in part to the refusal of women to go tend their fields outside Uvira, a refusal motivated by fear of rape and other kinds of attacks by soldiers and other combatants.
Sexual Violence in North Kivu
At the time of research for this report in late 2001, military activity was less intense in North Kivu than in South Kivu. Some soldiers and combatants nonetheless raped women and girls frequently. As in the south, RCD soldiers are established in the towns, like Goma, the major town of the region, but they control only limited parts of the countryside. Armed Hutu combatants dominate much of the territory of Masisi, Rutshuru, and Walikale, although the RPA, together with the RCD, launched a major effort to drive them from the region in 2001. Some of these Hutu combatants are part of ALIR, the best organized and largest of the Rwandan rebel units in Congo. Although ALIR commanders apparently ordered their forces not to harm civilians when a large number of them crossed into Rwanda in May 2001, they seem not to have extended this order to Congolese territory.123
In March 2001, a group of Congolese were on their way to market in Kitchanga, Masisi territory, about sixty kilometers north of Goma. Innocente Y., a woman who was part of the group, said that they were suddenly attacked by "many, many, perhaps a hundred, Interahamwe." She said that she and the others were sure that the assailants were "Interahamwe," although they were in uniform. They were very dirty, meaning they had been living in the bush, and they spoke Kinyarwanda. They killed the two men who were accompanying the women, then picked eight women to carry off the goods they had been taking to market as loot. Her captors took Innocente Y. deeper into the bush where she was held for two days. Five men raped her repeatedly during this time. She risked her life by fleeing the camp. As she ran away, she saw the body of another woman who she believed had tried to flee and had been caught.124
Claire L. was attacked by an RCD soldier while gathering wood in an area near Goma in May 2000:
I was going out to find wood for some construction. I was on the road and I was with my mother. My mother was helping me put wood on my head, when this soldier came and started yelling at us, saying: "You're Interahamwe-do you want to live or die?" He tied my mother to a banana tree, and he raped me. He was a RCD soldier. He had a grenade and a rifle and wore a uniform. He was one of the Tutsi soldiers who stayed in the hills above the town.125
Aloysie B., a widow with three children, was raped by "three Tutsi soldiers" in June 2000 as she was returning home from her bean field in Sake, some twenty-five kilometers from Goma. When she tried to resist, they cut her upper thigh with knives.126
Elise T., a twenty-nine-year-old widow, suffered a similar experience in the hands of Kinyarwanda-speaking RCD soldiers at the end of 1999. She was alone tending her beans in a field close to Sake in the middle of the morning. The soldiers threatened her with death if she resisted, and each of the eight soldiers raped her, "one after the other." They then made her walk a long distance with them in order, she felt, to terrify her. She became pregnant as a result of the rape and, like so many others, did not consult a doctor after she was raped.127
Hélène C. was raped while working away from home in October 2001. An RCD soldier came looking for the owner of the house she was staying in. She was alone at that moment. He asked her for a glass of water and, as she went to get it, he grabbed her from behind. "He put his hand over my mouth. I fought back. He kicked me in the stomach and I fell over. It took less than ten minutes," she said. "he took his gun and left." She added,
There was no blood, just some pain for a few days. I thought I was just a little injured. I didn't think I could identify him. They would just say [Hélène] did this and so I said nothing. I thought it would just pass.128
Commenting on responsibility for the attack, she said:
I don't just blame the soldier who did this to me. I also blame the RCD. I think the war brought this to me. We [women] are victims of the war. We don't take up arms but we, the women, suffer the most.129
This was the second time she had been assaulted, although the first time, in 1997, she had managed to escape. That time a Rwandan army commander had tried to rape her. She said he was an "Afande"130 in charge of the Mushaki military camp in North Kivu at the time. She told us: "[In trying to resist] I was stung by grasses-as though I was stung by bees. He chased me and fired two shots at me. I said to the Afande: `Kill me if you have to-I can't do it.'" 131
Twenty-year-old Antoinette E. was raped after school one day in early 2000 when she went to get water. An RCD soldier from the nearby military camp came down the hill from the camp toward her, offering to help carry the water, but then turned on her and raped her. When she resisted, he cut her shoulder with a knife, leaving a thick scar. She cried and went home but did not seek medical attention. She became pregnant as a result of the rape. At that time she lived with her family and went to school. As a result of the rape, the family rejected her and she had to leave school. She now has the sole care of the baby, who is handicapped, and survives by washing clothes or working as a laborer on other people's land. "The RCD soldiers do whatever they want," she said.132
Although the RCD has a stronger grip over Goma than over any other city in eastern Congo, there is a high degree of insecurity in the city, including rapes, armed robberies, and attacks on residents. In some cases perpetrators have been RCD or RPA soldiers, in others Congolese policemen. RCD authorities have acknowledged that officials have been involved in some of these crimes. According to Agence France Press, they issued a statement read on the radio which said: "These reprehensible acts are often committed with the complicity of certain elements closely tied to political or military authorities and by errant soldiers."133 Some of the attackers may also be members of predominantly Hutu armed groups or deserters from such groups or from the army.
Twenty-one-year-old Delphine W. was raped during an armed robbery in Goma by three Rwandan and Congolese soldiers in September 2001:
I don't know what time it was, I was asleep. Four men, soldiers, came to see what they wanted to steal. They were armed with knives. They spoke Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili-the two languages of the military. Some were Rwandan and some Congolese. Some were in civilian clothing and some in military uniform. I didn't see their faces. They chose our house by chance; there are lots of other houses in the neighborhood. There was just me and my mother in the house. They forced the door open.
I was in bed. When the door opened I cried out. They said they needed the girl. Three of the men raped me. They did not rape my mother. They said they didn't need the mother, just the girl. They asked if I was married and I said no. They asked me if I had ever been taken by a man and why. [One of the men] said what girl has never been taken by men? It was the first time I had ever slept with men. They said if I refused, they'd kill me. The first one who took me hit me with his hands; he took me by force. I asked for mercy. He said that if I didn't let him do it he would kill me. I refused. He hit me so I accepted. I was still in bed. The others didn't hit me. The second one wanted to put his thing in my mouth-I refused. The three raped me, the fourth left. When they took me, I felt sick.
In the night I cried and said to God: "Why did you want it to be like that? I refused so many men. Then I had to accept men I had never met before, I didn't even know their faces."
My mother told me I should thank God I was still alive. She told me to be brave and not say anything to other families so as not to lose my reputation. She said if I publicize it, I might not get a husband. They could say I have illnesses because I was with soldiers.
I was sick for three days. I felt cold. It felt as if they had put chili in me-it burned. There was lots of blood running out. I bled for five days, as if I was having a period. I haven't had a normal period yet [the rape had taken place about five weeks before]. I was in pain afterwards but that is all right now. In the morning my mother gave me water to wash with, just water. I haven't seen a doctor or a nurse. I don't have enough money to have tests-I have problems finding money for my studies, I can't afford medical things too. For my exams, we had to pay each teacher, one dollar, one dollar....I didn't have enough for that either.
I sometimes get headaches and feel dizzy and can't do anything. I sometimes can't breathe and feel as if I am going to die. This has happened three times since it happened, it never happened before. I go to pray but that doesn't seem to help. At times I feel out of my body. It happened four times and then goes-then I feel alive again.
I spoke to my mother about it-she says I must not feel sorry about it because I am still alive. The neighbors don't know-my mother told them they didn't do anything, just stole.134
Assailants who raped women and girls frequently beat, whipped, or otherwise physically abused them before, during, and after the crime. Those who abducted women and girls for weeks or months mistreated them regularly in addition to raping them. Rapists also insulted and humiliated their victims.
Beyond such usual kinds of abuse, there were other cases where the rapists inflicted severe injury on their victims by penetrating their vaginas with sticks or other objects or by mutilating their sexual organs with such weapons as knives or razor blades. A gynecologist said that in his many years of work he had never seen atrocities like those committed against women who had been raped whom he has treated recently. Among the cases are women whose clitoris and vagina lips had been cut off with razor blades. He said that one of his patients explained this by saying, "It is just hatred."135 The father of four daughters, the doctor commented, "I have the feeling that if you are born a woman in this country, you are condemned to death at birth....Why are we silent about this?"136
Uniformed, armed soldiers identified by witnesses as "Banyamulenge" surrounded a group of women working in a field in Kigongo, about ten kilometers south of Uvira in July 2001. Most of the women managed to run and hide, including the woman who informed us about the incident. However she saw the attackers grab a Burundian woman she described as Hutu. The attackers accused the woman of being the wife of the Mai-Mai, according to the woman who watched from her hiding place. The captive woman denied this, claiming that she had come to seek refuge in Congo from Burundi. Seven soldiers took the Burundian woman off and raped her. Then one of the rapists put a gun into her vagina and shot her. The assailants then left. The witness and other women came out of their hiding place and tried to take the badly injured women for medical assistance, but she died on the way. The following morning, the same attackers returned and threatened to kill the other women. According to the witness, there had been two other similar cases in Kabumbe recently. In each RCD soldiers shot women whom they had raped in the vagina, killing them. The witness, a forty-year-old widow, has not gone back to the fields since seeing the Burundian woman killed.137
On June 1, 2000 an RCD soldier raped a twenty-five-year-old woman on near Nundu in Fizi territory. He then shot her three times in her genitals. Miraculously she did not die. She was in hospital for several months and needs further operations and treatment.138 According to local sources of information, there has been no official investigation of this crime.
In some cases, rapists react with extraordinary cruelty to any efforts to resist their assault. One mother described the treatment of her daughter, Monique B., aged twenty, who was engaged to be married:
On May 15 of this year , four heavily armed combatants-they were Hutu-came to our house at 9 p.m. Everyone in the neighborhood had fled. I wanted to hide my children, but I didn't have time. They took my husband and tied him to a pole in the house. My four-month-old baby started crying and I started breastfeeding him and then they left me alone.
They went after my daughter, and I knew they would rape her. But she resisted and said she would rather die than have relations with them. They cut off her left breast and put it in her hand. They said, "Are you still resisting us?" She said she would rather die than be with them. They cut off her genital labia and showed them to her. She said, "Please kill me." They took a knife and put it to her neck and then made a long vertical incision down her chest and split her body open. She was crying but finally she died. She died with her breast in her hand.
RCD officers came and looked at the body. But then they went away and I don't think they ever did anything about it. I didn't talk to other authorities because I thought it was a military matter. There is no electricity there, and we couldn't see much, but we could hear her scream and see what happened when we saw the body in the morning. I never saw the attackers again, but I couldn't even see them well that night. They didn't stay after they killed my daughter.139
Children and the Elderly
Some rapists attacked the young and very young, betraying the usually acknowledged obligation of the adult to protect the child. They may have wanted to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS by raping those who had had no previous sex partners. Some Congolese interviewed also said that there is a belief that sex with a young child could eliminate the virus.
An unidentified assailant or assailants, apparently in uniform, raped a five-year-old child in Goma in late 2001. When later taken to the hospital, the child had lost so much blood that she needed a transfusion. The mother of the victim related the case to us and told us that it was some time before she could begin to walk normally again.140
In areas of military activity, soldiers and armed combatants raped young girls as they did adult women, to help establish their dominance in the region. In May 2001 a fourteen-year-old girl went to the forest near the Kahuzi-Biega National Park because she hoped to start earning some money like older girls and women by trading in charcoal. She and some ten others were returning home with their loads of charcoal when armed combatants, whom she identified as Interahamwe, came upon them. She and another girl, aged sixteen, were abducted by two combatants who kept them in the forest for three days. She said, "At first we resisted, but they kept hitting us. We finally gave in and they raped us."141 After three days the combatants left and the girls found their way home.
At about the same period, another fourteen-year-old and two older girls were also attacked in the same region when they were coming back from the forest shortly after dark. Three combatants abducted them and made them walk
until about 2 a.m. deeper into the forest. Each girl had to stay with one combatant and to have sex with him. The abductors kept them there for five days and made them obey by threatening to shoot them.142
In Walungu, near the Kahuzi-Bienga National Park, armed soldiers attacked a home in April 2000 and killed the parents of the family. The six daughters fled but returned home two weeks later. Because they were so afraid they slept together in a single bed. One of the sisters described a second attack on their home:
The soldiers came again. It was about 10 p.m. There were eight of them; I never saw them all together but I think there were that many. They shined a flashlight in our faces and threw us on the ground. They raped all of us twice rapidly, one by one. Our neighbors didn't help us; maybe they didn't hear us all crying. The soldiers didn't stay long after that. They seemed to be afraid too.
The youngest of the sisters was nine years old and the others were thirteen, fifteen, seventeen, nineteen and twenty. The girls believed that boys from the village, perhaps themselves fifteen or sixteen years old, joined the soldiers in raping them. The oldest sister said:
After we were raped, we went to a manioc field until 1 a.m. We didn't tell anyone what happened but we found that what happened was already spread all around the neighborhood-everyone knew. And everywhere we went, people talked about those girls who were raped. The neighbors were afraid the same thing would happen in their families.
I can't go back to that village as long as people know and remember all this. I'm trying not to be too preoccupied but just to concentrate on my studies. I don't ever want to see people of that neighborhood again.143
The girls are now staying with the family and friends of a priest in another community except for the oldest who, with the encouragement of the priest, recently passed an examination to enter university.
On October 19, 2001, armed FDD combatants raped two children in a village near Baraka on Lake Tanganyika. Their mother, Agnès T., told Human Rights Watch researchers that the assailants raped her thirteen-year-old daughter and her sixteen-year-old son in front of her. FDD rebels had attacked a group of fishermen, including her son. They tied them up and later that night brought the tied-up boy to her home in search of money. Agnès T.'s husband managed to escape through a window but the assailants caught her and tied her up. Four rebels raped her daughter. They also raped her son, "like a girl," said Agnès T. Then the combatants looted the house and left. Both children suffered infections as a result, and the girl spent a month in the hospital.144
Thirteen-year-old Thérèse K. was raped by RCD soldiers who attacked her home in the town of Uvira. Her grandmother, with whom she lives, managed to flee but left her behind. Seven men in uniforms and armed with guns who spoke Kinyarwanda-Banyamulenge, she claimed-broke into the house. One raped her.145
Juliette M., then fifteen years old, was raped by RPA soldiers in Kabare town, about ten kilometers from Bukavu. She was on her way to visit her grandparent to get a chicken for Christmas in 1998. Near a military camp in Kabare, she saw lots of soldiers, one of whom asked her to fetch him a mug. She did so, she said, because he was a soldier and she felt she had to respect him. He told her he knew she loved him, which she denied, and then he threatened to rape her. He called four other men and they took her to a small house in the military camp. They told her: "If you don't want to...we'll hit you." They undressed her and each of the four raped her. Then they chased her away. She went home crying but found support from her mother who took her to a local health center. Juliette M. said that she never wants to see a man again. Because of what happened to her, she says: "I can't marry. But I can study and one day help children."146
Twelve-year-old Eléonore R. was staying with her aunt and uncle in Goma when unidentified armed attackers broke in to their house in August 2001. They used a common method known as "katarina"-throwing large rocks at the lock on the door until it breaks. She said:
They used two stones to get in. Four [men] came into the house and there were more outside. They opened the door, took the papa, tied him up, hit the mama, and took everything in the house. They made a lot of noise. I hid under the bed.
They then came to my room. One was very tall, the other fat. I didn't know them and didn't really see them. They had guns and flashlights. They spoke Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili. When I refused one hit me twice with his hand. Then he did the act. There were four other children in the room, all younger. The man who did it told the others to close their eyes. I also closed my eyes. They stopped when the blood came.
I think they attacked only our house that night. They might have gone to other houses but I didn't hear of it. Afterwards lots of people from the neighborhood came.
In the morning I went to the clinic to see a nurse. I was torn and there was lots of blood. I was given a transfusion, pills, and an injection. I think they were vitamins. I was bleeding a lot. I don't have any pain now and feel fine though sometimes my legs seem to become paralyzed. I didn't have any other tests. The other mothers in the neighborhood helped me, gave me things.147
In another case, six armed and masked men in uniform broke into a home in Bukavu and attacked the father of the family with machetes. Two men took the mother away while the others raped the fifteen-year-old daughter for an hour. When she started to cry, they put the barrel of a gun in her mouth. She was severely beaten and suffered both internal and external injuries.148
In some cases, young girls were raped by men in positions of authority or related to those in positions of authority. Fifteen-year-old Grace C. was abducted after school in Goma on October 15, 2001 and held captive for eight days by an official in the RCD administration, a man she had seen once or twice at a neighbor's house. Although a civilian, the abductor was sufficiently important to have an armed military escort. Grace's mother spent days trying to trace her daughter. She paid several hundred dollars in transport and telephone expenses for RCD security officers and soldiers to locate her daughter. She believes that at least some of them knew where her daughter was and who was holding her. When they failed to help her, she went to see an adviser of Bizima Karaha, Head of Security and Intelligence. He, she said, reacted immediately and angrily, ordering that the girl be produced within two hours. Although Grace's mother still had to pay for the transport costs of those sent to get her, her daughter was brought home immediately.
During the eight days she was held, Grace C. was raped several times and threatened at gun point. She asked several times to be taken home. She was forced, on two occasions (once with a revolver at her throat), to phone her mother and lie about her whereabouts. On another occasion, she was forced to ask her mother to accept a delegation sent to arrange her marriage to her captor. The man who raped her claimed he wanted to marry her and ordered her to tell others that she wanted to live with him.149 Judicial authorities investigated this case and detained the alleged perpetrator for several days. He was subsequently released and the case has not been brought to court.150
In another case the son of a local official raped an eleven-year-old girl at a village not far from Goma. He caught the child when she had gone with another girl to gather manioc leaves in the fields. He tied up the other girl and raped the eleven-year-old. She suffered a fistula from the rape and for some time evacuated her feces through her vagina. The child's family reported the rape to local officials. The rapist supposedly paid some compensation to an official, who failed to pass any of it on to the victim or her family. The rapist left the area and was not prosecuted.151
Assailants also raped and otherwise abused elderly women, normally persons entitled to great respect in local society. In October 2000 a large number of Mai-Mai found a great-grandmother who had taken refuge in the forest with her grandson and his family. The Mai-Mai apparently knew that her grandson had worked in a local government office and so accused him of collaborating with the RCD. She said:
About one year ago, we were living in the forest. I was with my grandson and his baby boy who was just born. A large number of Mai-Mai attacked us. The baby was with me and they threw him down. They beat my grandson with a pounding stick [the kind used to pound dried manioc into flour] until his brains and his eyes spilled out of his head.
Then they raped me. They put a knife to each of my eyes, and they said that if I cried, they would cut my eyes out. There were many of them when they raped me, but I don't know how many. They were filthy. They wore masks and animal skins. They said they would save everyone, but only if we all obeyed them.152
Combatants abducted women and girls and held them for periods up to a year and a half, forcing them during that time to provide both sexual services and gender-specific work. In addition to being raped, women and girls were obliged to do domestic labor, such as finding and transport firewood and water, gathering and preparing food, and doing laundry for the men who held them captive. For example, the young women abducted by Hutu armed men from villages near the Kahuzi-Biega forest told our team that they were forced to work for their captors. Béatrice K., Cécile K., and Valérie J., who were captives together-their cases are cited above-had to fetch water and to cook for the three men who held them in the forest.153 Cécile K. said: "Sometimes we refused to cook and eat because afterwards they always wanted sex."154 When Valérie J. refused to cook, one man got angry and slapped her.155
When combatants moved camp, they forced the women and girls under their control to transport their belongings. When they raided to seize goods, they obliged the women and girls to carry their loot to their bases.156 Sixteen-year-old Véronique K. from a village in Katana territory, near the Kahuzi-Biega forest, was abducted by Hutu armed men in September 2001. She and a neighbor's girl had to carry the loot to the forest. When she was released after a week of sexual abuse, one of the combatants said to her: "Go back to the village, earn dollars, and afterwards we will come back and get you again."157 When Innocente Y. was abducted by Hutu rebels near Kitchanga in North Kivu-her case is cited above-she and several other women had to carry the goods they were going to sell on the market to the forest instead, providing their captors with fresh food.
In one case, combatants forced female captives to accompany them on a raid to help in abducting other women, a plan which failed because the targeted village had been abandoned.158 In another case, described below, women with training as nurses sometimes provided rudimentary medical care for the injured.
The captors ordinarily held the women and girls at places distant from their homes and often in areas that were unfamiliar to them, making it difficult for them to try to escape. In some cases, women and girls were kept under armed guard.
Women and girls held in the forest ordinarily lived in conditions of misery in temporary shelters constructed of leaves, wood, and sheets of plastic. In one case captors deprived the women of sleeping mats and forced them to sleep on the ground. In some cases, women and girls had no shelter and were exposed to drenching rains whenever the weather was bad. Often short of water and with no soap, women found it difficult to stay clean. In some cases, their efforts at cleanliness were frustrated by having to associate with captors who never washed and were infested with fleas. Some Mai-Mai apparently believe that washing their bodies will diminish their strength and so do not bathe even if water is available.
Captors sometimes released their female captives because they were attacked or feared they might be attacked by the opposing side. In other cases, the captors released the women and girls because they planned to abduct others, apparently wishing to ensure a regular supply of women not exhausted or made ill by the rigors of life in the bush. In several cases, the captors informed women and girls whom they released that they would be back to take them another time. In at least one case documented by Human Rights Watch, captors who had raped a woman and held her for some time allowed her to return to the place in the forest where she had previously lived; over the next months they returned occasionally to require her to come and provide them with service on a short-term basis.
52 Human Rights Watch interview with civil society activist, Bukavu, October 16, 2001.
53 International Crisis Group, "Disarmament in the Congo: Investing in Conflict Prevention," Africa Briefing, June 12, 2001, p. 5.
54 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 19, 2001.
55 In October 2001, a local human rights group in Goma found that four women had been raped in Goma prison. Human Rights Watch and local human rights groups have also registered cases of rape by police.
56 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 18, 2001.
57 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 16, 2001.
58 The general perception is that Tutsi are tall and slim, and Hutu short and stocky. However this is a stereotype that often proves wrong.
59 The U.N. special rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Congo reported that Hutu RPA soldiers were involved in massacre of sixty people, five of whom were burned alive, and in the rape of sixteen women and girls, some under the age of nine, in Chiherano, Bugobe, Nyatende, Kamisimbi, Lurhala and Nyangesi in South Kivu in December 2000 (Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Congo, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 55/117 and Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/19, A/56/327, August 31, 2001, para. 80).
60 Human Rights Watch interview with civil society activist, Bukavu, October 16, 2001.
61 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 25, 2001.
62 Human Rights Watch interview with civil society activist, Bukavu, October 16, 2001.
63 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 17, 2001.
64 Human Rights Watch interview with civil society activist, Bukavu, October 16, 2001.
65 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 20, 2001.
66 Surveyors trying to demarcate the park were killed in mid 2000. More recently, environmentalist organizations have highlighted the killings of gorillas, a protected species, in the park.
67 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 18, 2001.
68 For security reasons, most vehicles avoid the boundaries of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
69 Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of a women's organization, Murhesa, October 19, 2001. According to an association in Bukavu, women and girls are most vulnerable on market days. On some roads, they have to pass through roadblocks manned by the RCD, RPA or the Local Defense Force, an auxiliary force of the RCD composed of civilians. At some of the roadblocks they are required to give some of their charcoal as a toll. The total might amount to 60 FC (Congolese Francs), over a quarter of the cost of a bag of charcoal (200FC). A bag of charcoal sells for about 350 FC leaving a profit of about 100 FC, the equivalent of U.S. $.05 or two measures of manioc flour. To earn this amount from buying and selling charcoal costs each woman two days of traveling time and immeasurable personal risk.
70 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
71 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
72 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
73 Human Rights Watch separate interviews at Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
74 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
75 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 18, 2001.
76 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
77 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
78 Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of a women's organization, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
79 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 18, 2001.
80 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa. October 19, 2001.
81 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 19, 2001.
82 PAIF, "Enquete sur les cas de blessés suite _ la guerre;" Centre pour la Paix et les Droits de l'Homme-Peace and Human Rights Center (CPDH-PHaC), "Occasionnel d'Information et Revendication du CPDH-PHRC," No 017 du 03 mai 2001.
83 U.N. OCHA South-Kivu, "Rapport de mission Shabunda," May 2001, p2. U.N. OCHA states that Shabunda territory is the largest in South Kivu, and extends to 25,216 square kilometers.
84 U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) South-Kivu, Rapport de mission Shabunda, May 2001, p3.
85 Norwegian Refugee Council IDP database, 2001, quoted in Save the Children, Oxfam and Christian Aid, "No End In Sight, The human tragedy of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo," August 2001, p10.
86 See Human Rights Watch, "Eastern Congo Ravaged," p. 17.
87 Human Rights Watch group interview, Shabunda, October 21, 2001. A force with the same name and functions operates in Rwanda. The organization was likely introduced into the region by RPA troops.
88 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 21, 2001.
89 The figure of 2,500 to 3,000 victims, given by the governor, seemed to refer to South Kivu province as a whole. UN OCHA, "Compte rendu de la commission ESPD sur les femmes violées de Shabunda", July 2001, p.1, and UN OCHA South-Kivu, "Rapport de Mission Shabunda", May 2001, p.4. Also Human Rights Watch interviews with representatives of the International Rescue Committee, Bukavu, October 15 and 17, 2001, and Médecins Sans Frontières, Bukavu, October 16, 2001, and Goma, October 24, 2001; and other interviews in Bukavu and Shabunda, October, 2001.
90 Human Rights Watch interview with staff of the International Rescue Committee, Bukavu, October 15, 2001.
91 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 17, 2001.
92 Human Rights Watch interviews with Guy Cirhuza, Humanitarian Assistant, UN OCHA, and Gertrude Mudekereza, Program Assistant, World Food Programme, Bukavu, October 17, 2001; with Cory Kik, Médecins Sans Frontières, Bukavu, October 16, 2001; with International Rescue Committee, Bukavu, October 15 and 17, 2001; and other interviews in Bukavu and Shabunda, October 2001.
93 A fistula is an abnormal connection that develops between two of the body's organs. Recto-vaginal fistulas connect the rectum and the vagina and result in fecal matter passing through the fistula to the vagina and thus are often accompanied by fecal incontinence and infections; vesico-vaginal fistulas connect the vagina and the bladder and may result in urinary incontinence and infections. Fistulas develop from injury such as trauma or severe inflammation due to a disease. Some fistulas will close spontaneously; others require surgical intervention.
94 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
95 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
96 The Batembo and Bahutu (or Hutu) are ethnic groups in eastern Congo. In this quotation, "Bakongo" probably means Congolese as opposed to Rwandan.
97 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
98 Human Rights Watch interviews, Bukavu, October 20, 2001, and Shabunda, October 21 and 22, 2001.
99 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 16, 2001.
100 Human Rights Watch interview with Guy Cirhuza, Humanitarian Assistant, U.N. OCHA, Bukavu, October 17, 2001.
101 U.N. OCHA South-Kivu, Rapport de mission Shabunda, May 2001, p4.
102 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
103 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
104 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
105 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
106 Human Rights Watch interviews, Shabunda and Bukavu, October, 2001.
107 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
108 The best known incident is the massacre in Makobola, January 1999; another grave incident was the massacre of civilians in Lusende, July 2000.
109 Human Rights Watch group interview, Uvira, November 1, 2001.
110 International Crisis Group, "Disarmament in the Congo: Investing in Conflict Prevention," Africa Briefing, June 12, 2001, p. 5; and Ninth Report of the Secretary-General on the U.N. Organization Mission in DR Congo, S/2001/970, paragraph 23.
111 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, November 1, 2001.
112 Human Rights Watch Interview, Uvira, October 31, 2001.
113 Human Rights Watch Interview, Uvira, October 31, 2001.
114 Report by local human rights group in Uvira, unpublished.
115 Report about the situation in Fizi territory by a local human rights organization in Uvira, unpublished.
116 Reports by a local human rights organization in Uvira, unpublished.
117 Human Rights Watch interviews, Uvira, November 1-2, 2001.
118 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, October 31, 2100.
119 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, November 1, 2001.
120 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, October 31, 2001.
121 Human Rights Watch group interview, Uvira, November 1, 2001. On abductions by Burundian rebel forces see also "Neglecting Justice in Making Peace," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol.12, No.2 (A), April 2000.
122 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, October 31, 2001.
123 "Observing the Rules of War?" A Human Rights Watch Report, vol.13, no.8 (A), December 2001.
124 Human Rights Watch interview, Sake, October 26, 2001.
125 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 25, 2001.
126 Human Rights Watch interview, Sake, October 26, 2001.
127 Human Rights Watch interview, Sake, October 26, 2001.
128 Human Rights Watch inteview, Goma, October 26, 2001.
129 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 26, 2001.
130 "Afande" is a Kiswahili title used when speaking to soldiers, police etc. The term became associated particularly with members of the RPA when the RPA fought alongside the AFDL in the 1996/7 war. An "Afande," or "Afande," still generally refers to a soldier (usually high ranking) of Rwandan, RPA, and/or Tutsi origin.
131 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 26, 2001.
132 Human Rights Watch interview, Sake, October 26, 2001.
133 Agence France Press, "Rwanda-backed rebels retake town in east DR Congo: rebels," Kigali, November 10, 2001.
134 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 25, 2001. Many people told our researchers that families of women and girls raped during armed robberies frequently claimed-without being believed-that no rape happened. Several rape survivors in addition to Delphine admitted to having made such false denials.
135 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 17, 2001.
137 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, November 1, 2001.
138 See Héritiers de la Justice, "Situation des Droits de l'Homme en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) cas du Sud-Kivu. Une population désesperée, délassée et prise en otage," Rapport Avril-Décembre 2000 for reports of other rape cases committed by RCD troops and rebel groups opposed to the RCD including the FDD.
139 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
140 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 25, 2001.
141 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
142 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
143 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 18, 2001.
144 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, October 31, 2001. This is the only case of male rape reported to Human Rights Watch researchers. Because rape is considered even more shameful for a male victim, crimes of this kind are less likely to be reported than those involving female victims.
145 Human Rights Watch interview, Uvira, November 3, 2001.
146 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 19, 2001.
147 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 25, 2001.
148 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 20, 2001.
149 Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, October 27, 2001.
150 Electronic communication from family member to Human Rights Watch, December 2001; Human Rights Watch telephone interview, December 2001.
151 Human Rights Watch interview, Sake, October 26, 2001.
152 Human Rights Watch interview, Shabunda, October 22, 2001.
153 Human Rights Watch interviews, Bukavu and Murhesa, October 18 and 19, 2001.
154 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
155 Human Rights Watch interview, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
156 Human Rights Watch interviews, Murhesa, October 19, 2001.
157 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 19, 2001.
158 Human Rights Watch interview, Bukavu, October 18, 2001.