From October 14-17, 2010, 250 women from 48 countries and more than 1000 delegates from across the Democratic Republic of the Congo joined thousands Congolese women in the city of Bukavu in South Kivu province for the third international World March of Women WMW) . Launched for the first time in October 2000, the World March of Women aims to support women in the fight against inequalities, causes of poverty, gender-based discriminations and violence against women. The choice to hold the march in Bukavu was to make a strong statement against rape pandemic suffered by women in Congo particularly in the eastern since 1996. (watch Al jazeera report on the recent rapes in south Kivu here)

“We will continue marching as long as all women are not free”, they sang during their march. Some of the delegates visited the hot spots where women live in constant fear of being raped and kidnapped. The question at hand is when will this end? Unfortunately, in less than a month after the gathering, from the city of Bukavu, Stella YANDE, Executive director of Alpha Initiatives sent out this sad news about the ongoing suffering of women. (translation from French by AFJN team). Bukavu- On October 30, four women and one girl were taken hostage by armed men, not yet identified. The hostages are from central Mwenga town. Their names are: MUSEBA MISON, MWAVITA MUPENDE, Vumilia YENGAYENGA Hope, TAKUBUSOKA PONGA, And NOELLA MULINDJA of 17 years of age. The victims were returning from Butezi in Bashimwenda County where they went to buy palm oil for sell. For each bottle of palm oil bought, it is estimated that they were going to make a profit of 1,500 Francs (a little more than a dollar). On their way back, between Kasese and Mwenga, they were kidnapped and taken into the forest. The people who heard the news alerted the Congolese national army (FARDC) who engaged in the pursuit of the kidnappers without success. On Monday November 1st, around 9 pm one of the victims arrived in Mwenga with the ransom demand of: $ 100 per person, a bag of salt, flashlight batteries, 5 plastic sheets (sheeting), 5 waterproof plastic bags, 1 carton of cigarettes, 100 boxes of matches, 1 box of lighters, 1 bottle of local corn liquor ( Kanyanga, quality 500), 4 bottles of local corn liquor (regular quality), 5 bags of corn flour/50 kg per bag, 1 bag of 100 kg of beans, and phone calling cards Zain of 5000 minutes. The total on the ransom is estimated at $800. They asked that their demands be placed at a place they have chosen before 5 pm on November 2. Passed this date and time they threatened to kill the hostages. As of November 2, evening, friends and family have raised only $ 182 and a quantity of products which the territorial and military authority in the area demanded to be reported before they are delivered to the kidnappers. It is worth recalling that in September 2010, 4 people including 3 women and 1 man were taken hostage for a week and released after a ransom of U.S. $ 300 and other products. In early October 2010, another woman was taken hostage and released shortly after a ransom in cash. From testimonies received from these people, the group of kidnappers is made of 4 armed men in military uniform slightly worn out and speak Kinyarwanda and Swahili. They can be reached at the following phone number 0994704016. They have been operating in the same area without any attempt to capture them.

(Watch Voice of America’s report on Congo here)

Read the New York Times ” Hundreds Were Raped on Congo-Angola Border”