DR Congo: Women’s Economic Empowerment Reduces Domestic Violence
Since they started gaining money from their sewing, they now feel a bit more respected and relaxed. They said that their husbands were abusing them because they had no job and no money…
By Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile, Founder/Exec. Director, COFAPRI
DR Congo is known globally for its cyclic wars that have been causing women and girls to be raped. This has caused the country to be known as the world capital of rape; the worst place to be a woman. Over the last 25 years, the people – and mostly the women – have been carrying the brunt of the wars, and the women have been suffering the most. Rape and rampant violence to women and girls have penetrated families, the inner part of the society.
Families have also been affected by these intermittent wars. The women who have been raped have suffered shame and victimization leading to them being expelled unjustly from the husband’s family, which causes them lots of moral hurts, in addition to the physical wounds they have already endured.
Most of the women have been falsely accused of attracting rape on themselves and they suffer rude insults. The women who have not been expelled from their households have gone through tough griefs but endured. They were insulted, beaten and abused in various ways but could not leave. They stay for their children and they fear what the neighbours will say. In Congo, one marries for life and bears all the brunt of a marriage in the home.
“My man married me, and I vowed to live with him for the worst and the best in the presence of the priest, our friends, our families and more other people. He has laid his hand on me several times, but I cannot go because people would laugh at me. Even my parents cannot allow me to return to their home because a man has beaten me. They say no woman leaves a man because she has been beaten if he still feeds and clothes you. So, I endure.”
COFAPRI member, Nabintu.
Some of the women like Nabintu have been coming to COFAPRI for support. They have not been rejected but have been given the chance to learn a lifesaving skill of sewing. After having learned this skill, most of the women can now fly with their own wings. They find that the way their husbands were treating them has largely changed. In comparison to before, since they started gaining money from their sewing, they now feel a bit more respected and relaxed. They said that their husbands were abusing them because they had no job and no money.
“He was the only breadwinner. Today, I am not depending on him financially and he is respecting me. I think he even fears me because when you have money, you have power. Now, he talks to me like a partner, which he could not do before. I am living in peace with my children. All of them are going to school and all that is thanks to this sewing I have learned at COFAPRI. Getting a job or a business sets a woman free. There is change and it makes me feel a complete woman; I am at peace now.”
COFAPRI member, Iragi Alphonsine.
If you would like to support our efforts of empowering these women in the villages of DR Congo, we will be more than happy; any backing will be appreciated. Contact email@example.com.