WALTER JAMES

Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.



Binwa: “I live as I did before”

06 Oct
Binwa

Binwa

Binwa is 40 years old and has 5 children. In 2010-2011, she spent three months the SOS FED center in Mboko. Binwa lives in Quartier II, a neighborhood in Mboko. She is a survivor of sexual violence. I interviewed Binwa at her home in Mboko, on a beautiful September evening. Unfortunately, her husband could not be present, as he was at the hospital looking after a sick child.

Binwa had been raped by armed men while alone in her fields. When her husband’s family found out about the incident, they counseled Binwa’s husband to leave her, as she had “become the wife of another man in the forest”. Binwa’s husband heeded his family’s advice, and forced her to leave their home. Binwa attempted to explain to her husband that she had been raped and therefore the incident was not her fault, but to no avail. Binwa resided for several months at the home of a neighbor, and then went to the SOS FED center in Mboko to receive psychosocial and socioeconomic assistance.

Wilondja Lubunga, the SOS FED Mboko reintegration officer, met with Binwa’s husband three times while she was at the center; two of these times, Wilondja was accompanied by the mwami (traditional chief) of Mboko Quartier II. Wilondja and the mwami counseled the husband to reunite with his wife, explaining that the woman was not at fault for her rape and that her value as a wife, mother, and human being was not diminished by her violation. At first, said Wilondja, he heard some very “bizarre” commentary during the sessions with the husband, but he said that after 3 sessions he was able to break through and convince the husband that he needed to re-accept his wife and not blame her for the rape.

At the date on which Binwa was to be reintegrated, her husband arrived at the SOS FED center in Mboko to be reunited with her and to bring her home. The mwami was also present at the reunification.

While Binwa is happily reunited with her husband and children, she does not speak anymore with her husband’s family. Binwa also said that she is not harassed or impugned by other members of her community anymore, thanks to interventions from the mwami.

Binwa continues with communal cultivation with two of her neighbors, neither of which are former SOS FED beneficiaries. Binwa said that she has informed many of her neighbors and friends about the risk-reduction methods she learned at the SOS FED center. She still remains in contact with several of her fellow SOS FED beneficiaries.

With the income she earned from participating in group cultivation at the SOS FED center, Binwa paid for school fees for her children and for food for the household. According to Binwa, she is “very happy” to be reunited with her husband.

“I am able to live as I did before,” said Binwa.

Posted By WALTER JAMES

Posted Oct 6th, 2011

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