COFAPRI-children-4Born from rape. These children are under COFAPRI school sponsorship programme; on holiday, they go to cultivate. Photo: Bahati Valérie, August 2012

Giving a Voice to Children Born of Rape

By Bahati Valerie, COFAPRI Co-founder & Executive Secretary

COFAPRI brings you a message from the children of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These children, boys and girls, are totally helpless. Desperate, because they are born to raped mothers, they have no fathers and society discriminates against them, as well as their mothers.

They are culturally discriminated against and cannot go to school. Their words are truly heavy –  meaningful and heavy; these words are from the bottom of these children’s hearts.

- - - -

We, the children of the DRC have been suffering tremendously and this, since ages ago, because we were born to raped mothers.

Our mothers are not socially and culturally valued, and neither ourselves, in the community.

They got pregnant by rape, and today, here we are.

This has hurt them morally and physically; others did not wait to deliver; many died of these wounds as nobody took care of them.

We never knew our fathers and some of us do not even know our mothers; so, no mother and no father and no society is caring for us. Our mothers live in acute poverty – this is the reason why they live in remote villages where they are repeatedly raped, gang raped, and taken as sex slaves.

Raped, our mothers did not choose our fathers.

We only hear about stories that break our hearts –  and yours, of course, about the rapist. Nothing bad like being fatherless; moreover, we have a nation, but it never cares about us.

Today, our mothers and ourselves suffer and suffer discrimination and lack of support.

Our mothers suffer the wounds they got physically and morally by being raped. Some of them were raped by several men, on several occasions and in several locations, others were held sex slaves. They also suffer from the unwanted pregnancies they got –  sometimes at gunpoint.

This causes them loss of self-confidence as they have become without hope. Their morale has disappeared.

Let the world listen to us as fatherless children of the DRC.

We and our mothers have become without hope, due to wars, due to rape.

Who will restore our hope?

As we are in this world, with no fathers, no care, where are we going today?

Society has neglected us; this will push some of us to take refuge in the streets as we are discriminated against, just like our mothers. Streets never educate us, but we have no other alternative. No choice, because we have no home, no shelter, no fathers.

This will push us to become a social load and threat whereas society should protect us.

This again will make others of us join fighters like those who raped our mothers. We do not want to become supporters of new wars, but the community is pushing us to do so.

Such a situation will cause our sisters to become involved in untimely sexual activities, though this causes lots of risks like HIV/AIDS infection and untimely and unwanted pregnancies.

We do not want all this to happen to us, not even to any other child in the world.

In addition to the wounds we have, we have no support at all due to discrimination and extreme poverty.

Being socially ill-treated darkens our future and that of the society. Society hates us, but we still love it. Our hearts are bleeding inside today because of this. Our hearts are heavy and this causes tears to shed, not from our eyes but inside us.

We are at risk.

At danger because we are hopeless; no one calls us their son or daughter. We have become the shame of our mothers as we have no father, no family that protects us.

We do not want to pour onto streets or in forests to damage our community although society is forcing us to do so.

Our words are heavy, sometimes hurting some hearts, but we feel it necessary to speak this out. Keeping them untold will make us worse.

We are children who have no protection, no society to plead for our case. So, we have to speak for ourselves. We are discriminated against because of being born to raped mothers.

The cultures of this society of ours send boys to the right and girls to the left, yet we are all children. This is the impartiality of the cultures and traditions here. We want to be on the same pace and walk abreast.

We, with fathers or not, born to raped mothers, are all children and we need fair care and support.

Send us to school like other children worldwide.

There we will get educated for a better future.

Educate us and our mothers in order to mend our broken hearts. Today, we are children, but tomorrow will never exist if we are still neglected.

Give us a chance to be called children of our country.

Let us grow clean and smart via education.

We beg with two hands, we kneel down with tears shedding off our eyes to get protection for our future and that of our country.

We insistently ask the world to look at us as part of it.

We did not choose to be called fatherless children. If you have a human heart, a heart of a good and caring person, you can listen to us, and understand our worries and plights that tear apart our souls and those of our mothers.

We truly feel abandoned to our fate. We are abandoned by the society and by the nation.

Only sending us to school can relieve our internal pain, rebuild our minds, and soothe our emotions and those of our raped mothers.

Give us chance to go to school, to get education for a better future of ours and that of our nation.

Thank you for listening to us.