For me, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a longstanding example of why abortion simply doesn’t solve any problems for the women of Africa. As we in the west debate the maternal health initiative, the Congolese women are supporting themselves and each other by any means necessary in otherwise insurmountable conditions.
Theirs is the stigmatized sorority of rape.
Behind these courtyard walls at Heal Africa, they’ve found a sanctuary and femaled a village of the otherwise damned.
Erased as wives and daughters for a crime done to them, they’ve been cast out from their homes, expelled from their hamlets, reviled by husbands and fathers and brothers, ostracized by neighbours
There is a fundamental problem in the DR Congo. It’s not lack of ‘access’ that plagues the lives of these women, but it’s that they are abused then shunned because of it. Often severely injured, women of rape are not welcome in their own homes or even the homes of relatives, so with no one left to turn to, these women have erected their own communities, safe havens, from the rubble of war and systemized abuse.
It was through the assistance of a local “listening house” — a network of counselling shelters that functions also as an underground railroad for disenfranchised rape victims — that Ushindi made her way to the central Heal Africa establishment in the North Kivu capital.
These women, some trained as counsellors, and their children, conceived through rape, now occupy the 28 safe houses HEAL Africa has provided.
When the subject of abortion is raised, if she’d ever considered ridding herself of the fetus, Ushindi gasps. Not only is the procedure illegal in the Congo — except when the mother’s physical health is endangered — but she, like the majority of Congolese, is Catholic, not the pick-and-choose kind either.
“That would be killing. There is already so much killing in my country. An abortion would make me just another killer, like the soldiers.”
HEAL Africa is not only providing safe houses and care but also works to combat gender and justice issues that are ultimately at the core of the mistreatment of the Congolese women.
HEAL Africa’s hospital and community development work address the root causes of illness and poverty for the people of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The hospital and the 28 women’s houses in Maniema and North Kivu have provided a safe place for many victims of the war, and have been a motor for combating poverty and promoting community cohesion over the past 14 years.
While HEAL Africa is doing all of the right things to empower women, it is all the more imperative that the G8 initiative works to preserve the goals and ideals of such organizations and allows them access to much needed funding without abortion agendas.by