In 1996, war broke out in the eastern highlands of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then called Zaire). The population falls into the most absolute horror. Violence against him, and more specifically gang rape and sexual mutilation, is perpetrated by rebels, army insurgents, soldiers, police, bandits and thugs of all kinds.
Cruelties and crimes are everywhere, wherever we are, wherever we flee, and whatever we try. Tatiana Mukanire Bandalire lived this hell. She is now the coordinator of the National Movement of Survivors of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a movement that tries to alert the world and mobilize it to break the silence in the face of sexual violence, fight terror and support the victims.
Les Éditions des Femmes publishes its book this month Beyond our tears (1), testimony on her behalf, and on behalf of her Congolese sisters who were victims of rape as a weapon of mass destruction. Doctor Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize winner, created the Panzi hospital in the DRC more than twenty years ago, to ” to fix “ physically and mentally the tens of thousands of women, young girls and newborns, who are subjected to sexual violence. He signs the preface to Tatiana Mukanire Bandalire’s book and speaks of a barbarism that has “Left behind a flood of tears and a river of blood”. How to dry up this flow? And how, already, to manage to look at it?
To meet Tatiana is to meet someone who is very gentle, seemingly peaceful, cheerful, curious and open to others. Then to read his book is to enter the world of the most total inhumanity. His story begins with a “Letter to (son) executioner “, in which she writes: “You no longer recognize that the woman is sacred. (…) Unlike you, I can color my world with joy, goodness, justice and peace, because I am not afraid to live again. (…) I’ll be there to block your way by all legal means. “ To raise your head is not to point the gun of vengeance, but to summon the justice of men, so that it orders the punishments, publicly and in broad daylight.
In the Congo, but also in Guatemala, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and unfortunately in so many other countries, rape is a weapon, and it is woman who is killed. Even a survivor, she dies. Tatiana has these words: “To be raped is to die while breathing. “ Each raped woman is marked with the seal of shame, often rejection, and her invisible veil is silence. Because rape is and remains a taboo, a dishonor for the family and the entourage of the victim.
One should read Tatiana Mukanire Bandalire’s book not only as the story of another country, but as the common story of women of all times and all continents, because in the recurrence of barbaric methods, in their infamous repetitions, the question of justice obviously arises, but also of the way we all look at those that have been downgraded in a subhumanity, because the goal of rape is indeed subjugation, the most crude domination, the total negation of the other, of his humanity. When Tatiana Mukanire Bandalire writes that from the first shot of the war, “The population began to see (son) ghost in (son) mirror “, she says that to be a survivor is to have a life beyond life, a life after death, to be “A clandestine”, and even “An infidel”, when the raped woman is married. As if the person who caused the rape was not the executioner but his victim, who had become responsible for the crime he suffered.
In France, it is not uncommon to hear, about an assaulted woman, that she was reckless in one way or another, some even dare to make recommendations in order to “make sure not to not be raped ”. We must never forget who sheds the blood and the tears. We must judge and punish. To change the mentalities. Inform. Educate. The mirror of women must never send ghosts back to them, but their own reflection, intact, personal, and total.
(1) Éditions des femmes – Antoinette Fouque, 80 p., € 12.