GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (BP)--"We need to clear the room," a translator announces. Then, he says quietly, "This woman was raped by rebel soldiers, and she's never told anyone before. She's been too embarrassed and too ashamed to let anyone know."
Among those sitting on the rickety, handmade benches of Mizeituni Baptist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a church member in her 70s. She uses a wooden staff to support herself. As others go outside, she remains.
The doors close, the windows are shuttered. In the darkness of the rustic building, the woman's story slowly unfolds, her face etched in pain at the memory of what she is about to tell.
"When the soldiers came, many people began to run," she tells a Christian journalist, "but I stayed at my house. I was not able to run away ... so I hid under the bed.
"They knocked down the door, dragged me from under the bed, took me into the bush, tied me up and raped me."
Afterward she returned to her house and said nothing.
"Now I have found that I have a venereal disease. And I am very angry and sad."
This story is repeated again and again across the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Millions of Congolese are now refugees, having fled the atrocities committed by both government soldiers and rebel fighters.
Government troops and rebels converge on a village, and the inhabitants are caught in the middle. Murder, looting and rape are the norm. The innocent become victims of stray bullets and deliberate atrocities.
These horrors trace back to 1994 and the Rwandan genocide. Estimates vary, but up to 1 million people were slaughtered over the course of about 100 days. Read More