English translation provided by community member Nancy Janus
In a country recovering from war, girls and young women can only become independent if they have access to knowledge and expertise to allow them to improve the possibility for a better future. In a rural area like the region of Walungu in South Kivu, the situation of orphan girls has become a nightmare: Jessica SIFA, age 13: “I am an orphan. I was admitted to the competition for entry into the first year of high school, but alas, my paternal uncle refused for me to go back to school.” People Without a Voice became involved with her foster parents (tutors), and recognized that her uncle had already promised her in marriage and had received money from the intended.” There are thousands of girls in Walungu who are deprived of their rights, often maltreated, turned into domestic servants while their brothers go to school.
Gisele BALEMBA, 14 years old, told us about her life;”…since my parents are elderly and cannot work anymore, the girls are forced” to do what they can to earn money doing agricultural work for individuals. In order to support the needs of the family, they do not go to school anymore and are exposed to all sorts of maltreatment and all the risks of sexual abuse…Added to these challenges is all the violence done to women and particularly to girls. These acts have shattered their academic and social lives as well as their psychological equilibrium: early pregnancy, leaving school, dropping out, academic defeat. The protection of children is a cause that concerns all of us. It will only be possible to get free of this violence if we, parliamentarians, respect our duties toward children and act accordingly.