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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Females in Congo Speak Out

Some females of the Democratic Republic of the Congo suffer in silence to respect the culture, to safeguard what they call "household unity."

I come from the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo-DRC. This beautiful and huge country is located at the heart of Africa. It engorges hundreds of tribes and cultures which sometimes walk over females’ rights. Today the women of this area are telling the world how their rights were infringed upon in the past and how today they are still disregarded in different aspects of life. This is done by the war masters and some ruthless people using the medium of culture as the scapegoat.

As mentioned above, the DRC with its multitude of tribes experiences strange realities related to customs, culture and practices that are sometimes infringing human rights, particularly those of females. Indeed every society is composed of two different kinds of people that are females and males. Normally when a girl grows up, she feels necessary to depart from her mother-home, and make her own home and so beget her offspring in a joyful environment. However, this is not what often happens in this part of the DRC. Here a woman gets married to lose her freedom and rights, and become totally dependent on a nagging and disrespectful husband.

Traditionally, either a boy or a girl could not make a free choice as to choose the life partner. In fact, this was the concern of the parents, not both but only the father. This because the wife in this community has no word. She is the second class person who has to implement the decisions taken by men, the rights' owners and masters. Yes, once the fiancé(e) was found, ceremonies were performed and here, it is worth to mention that women and girls were not allowed to participate in some of these ceremonies for the reasons above mentioned; today the same traditions are still practiced in some areas.

My attention is more drawn to the side of the girl; I always believe that frank communication always propels misunderstanding, which creates disputes in the long run. For this reason, the girl was not asked at all about the man she would love to live with for her entire life. Unfortunately this applied also to the boy. This is very ridiculous as to oblige a person to marry whom they do not know; but no other way, that was the culture and the practice of the area.

The family of the boy had then to pay the dowry, made of cows and other objects, to the family of the girl. At this level, the girl could be in contact once at most with her future husband before they could live together. The girl was then taken to the man. This situation depicts the violation of girls’ rights, which causes a lot of problems in the future.

In Bushi, the dowry was considered as cost, in their language it is called Ngulo, from the verb Kugula meaning to buy. This is quite understandable since the dowry was made of objects that may be compared to the girl value. Incredible!! In this context, the girl was as if she was sold. This situation seemed to give more power to the man and give none to the wife.

The same culture was and it is still considered in the remote areas of the country where the wife has no word at all in the household and in the society in general because she cannot speak in public or advise even her husband. The wife is not allowed to eat some food like meat, eggs or drink milk. Although today science has proved that the above contain most vitamins that our bodies need for positive development, these people are still refused to eat them. In speaking to the women of this area, one understands well that they have been instilled in their minds that that is the normal way a wife must live. We are faced with a hard but noble task of re-educating these women on issues of human rights. Today, the situation seems the same particularly with those some rude men who want to power everything in their homes. They give no word to their wives and daughters thinking the latter are not able to provide positive and constructing opinions. This is untrue since you and me do witness around us women getting out of the shell to mark great events in various domains. Today they are presidents, they are ministers, they are lawyers, they are soldiers just to name these. The Congolese woman is aware of all this and she dreams to break the shell and get out. Her rights are minored in different ways and by different actors. At home, the husbands become their heavy cross with rudimentary ideas of not giving them chance to develop. As is women were born to be stuck at home until death takes them away. NO this is unbearable, they are able to produce even more than what men do. Let them go to school, let them fell that home is the best place by sharing equally everything, let them feel they are human beings like you and me. To be a female does not mean to be a slave of someone, it means to be a complete woman who feels her rights are respected by everyone. After all they are our mothers; how can one enjoy life that was protected by a woman from conception until they die and deprive that woman of her rights? Let them feel rightfully that they are our mothers, , wives, daughters and sisters.

In the context of home education, boys and girls were and are still given distinct social education either at home, at church or at school. There are some activities for girls and that boys cannot perform. The girl is forbidden to whistle, to climb up, etc. Such job and behaviour discrimination do affect people once they have grown up and it does put a gap between males and females in what regards human rights observance. In their thinking, they know that women cannot do this but only the men can. In school the situation is different because boys and girls are given the same materials and write the same exam. Despite this, there are some areas of the DRC where boys and girls are not mixed in school. This segregation may affect the boys and the girls in their future life. They should be educated in a way that the grow knowing that their rights are the same and that boys must respect girls and vice versa in a respectful way.

The aspect of violence is another crucial issue that oppresses the females in the DRC. In the household, they are beaten, raped or physically or morally hurt by their husbands. The latter argue that it is better to beat them because they do not understand and in doing so the men are correcting the bad behaviours of their wives. For such battering men, beating a wife is to educate her.

As everyone knows, the DRC has been driven into consecutive wars that lasted almost a decade and this did not go with no negative aftermaths weighing on women. In war time, there is a lot of violence; men and women are victims but not in the same way. Men are taken by force to join the fighters or they are simply killed. As for women , they are used as tolls for sex, they are raped and mutilated, sometimes beaten hurtfully. All these cause them fear, trauma and lack of self confidence. They cannot report the odious things they have lived because again the culture does not allow them to talk about sex in public because this is breaking the customs, which leads to taboo issues. They do suffer internally but cannot leak the news out. Some of course but very few have the courage to report to the leadership. In case the evil does is arrested, we hear that he escaped or simply released and next time he repeats the same bunkums to the same individual. This shows clearly that these women are not well integrated in their community. As their husbands have been enrolled forcibly by force in fights, or if they have benn killed; then all the family charges fall on their heads. In becoming household heads, they endure a lot of suffering because their husbands did not prepare them for that. Most of these women are village women who did not attend school and therefore they have no job. Supporting a family of many individuals without income is embarrassing. A situation like this makes the woman suffer a lot morally and psychologically.

Considering all the details above, though not exhaustive, the women of the DRC call for anyone of good willing to rescue them from this scourge imposed by the culture and the people who willingly violate the females’ rights. These women and girls have been experiencing heartlessly and silently this deplorable situation for ages. This is their first step as they have taken decision to tell the world the woes, sufferings and sorrows they have been going through since the creation of Adam and Eve. They have broken the silence and we have to empower them by educating them largely about human rights. Educated or uneducated need this kind of education since some of them still believe a man is everything and that no woman can oppose the ideas of the man. But sometimes the man’s ideas may be wrong and destructive. Men also must not be neglected in this process because they are the ones who perpetrate these violations of females’ rights. These women want their rights to be respected and feel completely integrated in the society in general. These underprivileged women are convinced that the way is long but if they are supported, together with their strong commitment and devotion, the shell will be broken and there will be a way out. And yet, they want the future females’ generation to live in the world to which their mothers, sisters and daughters brought light by accepting suffering for the social freedom. The sun will shine tomorrow though today it is windy and dark. The support of everyone can make things go smoothly and peacefully and in the end come to the world that is safe, fair and discrimination free for the DRC women.



About the Writer

MUGISHO N.THEOPHILE is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Females in Congo Speak Out

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By SarahK on February 18, 2010 at 06:24 pm

Sadly this is still a common situation for females around the world. Even in this country women had to fight for a long time to vote. The social change takes a long period of time and I hope there are more men like you on their side to speed up the process.

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By MUGISHO N.THEOPHILE on February 19, 2010 at 07:41 am

Sarah, I thank you for your insight and your nice comment. Indeed, the world is living a plague of not giving the women their rigths. The violaton of females rights is worldwide though is appears in different forms. We have to speak it out and be united in rooting it out.

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