By Danielle Shapiro
Christian Science Monitor, May 9, 2010
"'How can I tell the child her father is someone who did this to me?' says young Ms. Pascaline, through an interpreter, as she slowly rolls a sock down her left leg, revealing mangled scars and burns just below her knee. Pascaline was held for eight months by the Interahamwe, a Hutu militia also known as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), which has waged a brutal war throughout Congo's eastern corner since fleeing across the border after Rwanda's 1994 genocide. She was beaten and raped daily. She tried to escape once but her captors caught her. They contemplated killing her, but instead tortured her. She was four months pregnant at the time. Four years and one surgery later, Pascaline feels sad and angry, even with her daughter. Yet she knows Rolande is not to blame.
'The child comforts me, especially when I see her playing with other children but also playing with me and laughing and smiling,' she says. 'I hug my child with a lot of happiness and I really forget some of my problems.' Acceptance of children conceived so violently comes slowly for many women, and only with counseling and support, according to advocates and several mothers. Intense social discrimination in Congo against rape victims and their children also makes bonding a challenge. But many women ultimately embrace their children, rejecting or abandoning them only rarely. Still, stigma makes survival a constant struggle and most mothers hide their children's origins. 'We don't dare tell these children who their biological fathers are,' said Jocelyn Nabintu, who was raped and has a 16-month-old son, Imani Borauzima. 'If the child learns about his origins, it can traumatize the child,' even leading to suicide. [...]"