Luzolo*, 27, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been living as a refugee in Kampala since 2009. While attempting to flee the conflict at home and seek refuge in Uganda, he was raped in a forest by armed men over nine days. He told IRIN about his ordeal and the physical and emotional consequences:
"One evening in October 2008, government soldiers came looking for my father at our house in Goma [eastern DRC]. They told him he was supporting the rebels. My father protested his innocence. They raped my little sister. Then they took my father outside, and I heard shots. When I went outside I couldn’t see either my father or the soldiers, only blood.
"The following day, I found my father’s body with two bullet wounds in the chest. In the evening some civilians came over and threatened to kill my younger brother, my little sister and me [his mother had died two years previously]. As I was the eldest, I decided we should leave. We spent two months in a hut in a nearby village.
"One day armed men caught me. They wanted to recruit me to fight for them. They gave me weapons and ammunition and we set off for the forest.
"There were five other prisoners there and 12 armed men. In the evening, the boss called us one by one. I was the first. He told me to get undressed. I said to myself: what does he want to do - beat me when I’m naked?
"It was horrendous. Then he told me to get down on all fours. Then he did as if I was a woman. He abused me. It was terrible. The pain was awful.
"All around, the guards were laughing and clapping. When he finished another came over - and there were seven of them that night. My hands and feet were shaking. I fainted and lost consciousness for three to four hours.
"That went on every evening for nine days in all. Finally, I managed to escape one morning when we were supposed to go out and collect wood. The first few days as I walked through the forest my anus was bleeding a lot. I managed to find my brother and sister before crossing the Ugandan border. I told them what had happened.
"When we got to Kampala they told me: 'Your blood smells bad. We can’t live like this. We’ll live separately.’ And they left. I did not know if I would have the strength to go on. I asked myself what was wrong with me.
"I cannot speak about my problem with Africans. They just laugh at me. I’ve even lost interest in women.
"When I went to the Refugee Law Project, Mama Salomé [Atim, a doctor with the NGO] took me to hospital where they gave me medication. I was not bleeding any more.
"I know I can tell Mama Salomé everything. She helped me see my sister again. Now, I can go and visit her, but she refuses to come to my place.
"For the last three weeks, I’ve had pains in my anus again. They told me I needed an operation but I’m scared.
"If I have the operation I will no longer have any money to pay my rent. To earn money I get up early to get water for my neighbours and wash their clothes. I also give French lessons to the children of the owner. I’m living a miserable life.”
*not his real name
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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