On the Ground, into the Heart of Sexual Violence in the Congo


She went from Colorado College graduate to volunteer rape crisis counselor in Chicago to stepping into her bigger story: entering the dark world for women in the Congo. Now Amy Ernst is even guest blogging for The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof at On the Ground.

Honestly, I can’t quite imagine the pressure of knowing you have to write and submit a piece to Pulitzer Prize-winning Nick Kristoff (but bring it on!) Yesterday Amy Ernst did it beautifully. The women and the story of the Congo is so close to my heart already and with her piece: Notes from a young American in Congo: Rape continues Amy brings the Congo headlines and rape statistics close. We get to step right into the room with her where she conducts the interviews … and meet these beautiful women with such profound stories.

Here’s an excerpt from her On the Ground post:

“C’est ca,” as everyone says here. That’s how it is.

When the 20 year-old woman sitting in front of me tells me her story, what I notice most are the frills on her white shirt. “It was seven soldiers who kept me in the forest for four days and raped me,” she says.

Her name is Joan. As she tells me what happened, she says the words without looking at me, and I can see that she is working hard not to cry. Joan explains that she was with three “mothers,” during those four days. She was 17 at the time, and now has a three year-old son. Her nostrils flare, and she stares at the ceiling as she answers my questions. Asking how many soldiers is a question I despise, but having interviewed several girls before Joan, I know the question is necessary.

Her story is not new to me. I’m doing “identification” for COPERMA, a small Congolese organization trying to help the multiplying victims of violence, including rape, in North Kivu, a province along Lake Kivu in Eastern Congo. As the soldiers move through the region, they leave thousands without homes, without food, and many people, regardless of age or sex, with the horror of rape in their minds. “The soldiers shot my father and stole all of our things,” Joan continues.

Read the rest of the story here.

Image by Amy Ernst via On the Ground.

  • http://www.jimmymcphee.blogspot.com Jimmy

    Thank you for this link.
    I commented with a poem on her 4th of April post
    titled – ‘Oh Christ’

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Hi Jimmy, so appreciate your voice over here.