Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Congolese woman guerrilla fighter seeking revenge

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Faida comes from North Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a few kilometers from the village of Masisi.

She suffered sexual violence in the hands of armed men and after surviving that ordeal Faida is still struggling with the impact caused her mentally and physically.

The day she was raped, she told DW that the armed men also murdered her mother and brothers among a total of four women, eight men and two children.

Faida blamed the FDLR group (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), a Rwandan rebel group founded by Hutu extremists.

The rebel group, according to her came to Congo to murder, steal and rape after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. They also killed her husband, rendering her a widow and a rape victim.

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Faida was severely traumatized and completely on her own, struggling to find food for her two children.

Sooner a former teacher-turned rebel commander came to Faida’s village to recruit fighters.

The mission of the former teacher’s rebel group was to battle against the FDLR and Faida accepted to join to seek revenge.

She told DW that “If I could find the men who did this to me, I would shoot them immediately.”

Faida, the mother of six children revealed that she joined the armed group 17 years ago.

She was just 15 years old and working in the fields with her father, when some men armed with machetes came and beat up her father in front of her.

“Six of them took me away,” she said and even though she couldn’t openly talk about what happened next, she responded in affirmative when the DW reporter asked if she was raped.

Faida said “They killed almost my entire family and raped me. There was no future for me. I couldn’t go on with my life as before, so I decided to become a fighter to get revenge.”

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Democratic Republic of Congo is reeling under conflict especially in the eastern part of the country.

Amid the unending fighting and violence, rape is widespread with 200,000 people reportedly being victims.

Militia fighters rape women, men and children hoping to terrorize civilians and drive them from resource-rich areas or fertile farmland.

Faida said the incident she suffered years ago made her feel “like I was defeated. My life defeated me.”

Faida is grateful to the militia leader for taking her in as he has opportunity not only to take revenge on her family’s killers but to also have a sense of security provide for her children.

Last year alone the United Nations estimates that armed militias killed more than 2,000 people.

More than 5.5 million were also displaced in three eastern Congolese provinces during the same period, making Congo the African country with the most internally displaced people.


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