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The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women

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Dana Stevens | 12:20 UK time, Tuesday, 30 March 2010

400x300_judith_face.jpg Just watching the preview clip for The World's Most Dangerous Place For Women made me feel angry, emotional, upset and intrigued. The programme follows Judith Wanga as she returns to the Congo twenty years after her parents sent her to live in the UK. I've interviewed musicians from the capital Kinshasa before, and heard many amazing stories of people trying to find hope amidst the devastation of war. But I hadn't heard about the heartbreaking injustices suffered by women in the country... until now.

The director of the programme, Fiona Lloyd-Davies, has been interested in the region for a long time, so she certainly knew what she was getting in to. I asked her to tell us more about making such a challenging documentary.

Fiona Lloyd-Davies writes:

Making The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women was the realisation of nearly ten years of work for me. I had first gone to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in October 2001 post 9/11. I had been banned from Pakistan after making a film there about Honour Killing and as the worlds press flocked to cover the emerging situation, all poised on the border to flood Afghanistan, I found myself excluded.

So I looked for another story and found a virtually unknown but ongoing horror in eastern DRC. Mass rape against women. It was like a virus. In Shabunda, a town deep in the forest, I found that nearly 70% of the women had been raped. Since then I'd gone back to DRC on and off over half a dozen times to write articles and make short films. But I'd never been able to secure a commission to make a whole film about what was happening to these women. It was as though they had been forgotten by the world. The women had totally captured my heart. I felt I couldn't let them down.

200x200_judith_girl.jpg Then, last year, nearly ten years later, I was asked to join the BBC Three team to take Judith (known as 'Jude') back to her birth place to discover for herself what was going on. The channel was taking on difficult but important global issues and bringing them to an audience through the eyes of a young British woman. It was going to ask a lot of 23 year old Jude. She was not only going to meet her parents for the first time since she was three and a half; but she was also going to meet women who had survived the most brutal violence she could imagine.

(Photo: Judith Wanga with a three and half year old girl who was raped. Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, DRC.)

It seems inconceivable, but since I first went, the situation for women has got even worse. The sexual violence has now become generational. Women are being raped for the third or fourth time, and their children who they conceived through rape, are themselves being raped too. It was going to be quite a responsibility taking a young London woman to a hostile environment, immersing her in a culture so close to her but one which she had been away from for twenty years. It would be her first time in Africa since she left. Her total experience of foreign travel since leaving DRC had been Europe and a visit to New York.

I knew it would be a challenge. Working in DRC always is. It's not just the threat of physical danger, meeting a militia group that decides not to be friendly; running into a roadblock who want more than just money; the heat; and then the dust that gets everywhere - yes, really, everywhere, every nook and cranny. It's also dealing with the shocking truth of what's happening here. It's stressful, tense, emotionally draining, but also one of the most intoxicating places I've ever been to. The people, who have endured so much are totally inspirational and the country itself is breathtaking in its beauty, virtually untouched by human hand.

300x200_judith_parents.jpg The waiting for Jude was finally over. We arranged to go first to meet her parents in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC in the far west of the country. Like Jude, I was seeing Kinshasa for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by how much calmer it seemed than the other places I had been to in DRC. Jude seemed to take the reunion in her stride, after hugs and kisses she settled into 'Kinois' life as if she'd never left.

(Photo: Judith with her parents, Pierre and Angela Ezalapa, at their home in Kinshasa, DRC.)

Her parents were warm and incredibly welcoming to us, the cameraman, Luke and I, who were invading their home and sharing such a special moment. Their modest house in the suburbs was filled with relatives and friends all eager to see the 'daughter from London'. Many of them remembered Jude as a child and there were enormous amounts of food cooked, barbecue goat and catfish; celebrations and all night dancing. There was lots of laughter and it couldn't have been a happier occasion.

300x200_judith_father.jpg But as arranged, after a few days it was time to head east. Jude would be coming back for a longer stay when we finished filming. Her parents were worried; they knew only too well what had and continues to happen in the east. It was a brief sombre moment before their goodbyes. After they wished us a safe journey, they looked me straight in the eye and said they trusted me to protect their daughter. It was a huge responsibility.

(Photo: Judith with her father Pierre in Kinshasa.)

Travelling across DRC is not as straight forward as it sounds. The troubled east is nearly 1,000 miles away and the only BBC approved direct airline is the UN mission in DRC, MONUC. But journalists are bottom of the pile and you can wait days to get on a flight. So the alternative is to fly to Nairobi, then to Kigali, capital of Rwanda and drive to the border. A journey of several days.

400x300_judith_boat.jpg (Photo: Judith Wanga on her way to mine on the island of Idjwi in Lake Kivu, DRC. She's about to discover what drives the conflict and the violence against women.)

But it's also a good way to psychologically start a gradual immersion process into DRC. Many of the problems in this region started in Rwanda after the genocide that saw the slaughter of over 800,000 people in 1994. Jude heard first hand from our local guide about what had happened and was knocked sideways by it all. It would be the first of a number of times when she wasn't able to hold back the tears.

200x300_judith_christine.jpg Jude met a bunch of extraordinary women on her trip to the east; there was 24 year old Delphine, a final year law student who was also going out to villages to record survivors' testimonies; Merveille a teenage former child soldier; and then Masika a survivor who has set up her own support network for other women. Some had survived terrible brutality; others were and continue to work through incredibly difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions to make sure people know what's happening. I think it would be fair to say that we all found these women totally inspirational.

And the best part is that we're not the only people that get to meet these amazing women. Our friends and family will too on BBC Three.


(Photo: Judith Wanga with Christine Schule Descriver, Director of V-Day Bukavu.)

Fiona Lloyd-Davies is the Director of The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women.


550_judith_thandie.jpg (Photo: Judith Wanga and Thandie Newton. The film is narrated by Thandie Newton, who is involved in the work of campaign groups in the UK to stop violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.)

You can watch the programme TONIGHT at 9pm on BBC Three and afterwards on iPlayer.

Other similar programmes on BBC Three:

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Thank you to Fiona Lloyd-Davies for making this insightful documentary and giving the women of the Congo a voice in Britain. The film has shocked and deeply saddened me. Please tell me what I can do to help.

  • Comment number 2.

    So affected by this programme, why is this not in the news daily? Why are 'we' (UN?) not doing anything (enough) to help ...... can you give any links to charities who are working in this area so that I can contribute materially as well as in thought?

  • Comment number 3.

    Thank you for making this program. it was very moving. I'd like to know if there are any charities that we can contribute to toward woman in Congo? If you could give details I'd be grateful. Thanks

  • Comment number 4.

    Although it is easier not to think about the horrific ordeals that these women face, I am so glad that this programme explored them. I found it so moving. I would love to raise some money which charity would you recommend contributing towards? Thanks.

  • Comment number 5.

    An eye opening programme and Judith was courageous and can se that she is really ambitious and wants to help the women of congo. I would like to help in any way and would be greatful if I can get Judith's contact so we can perhaps work together concerning this issue. Good job Fiona Lloyd-Davies.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have been deeply moved and shocked by this programme. How can I help?

  • Comment number 7.

    It's great to see this on TV but surely someone who was born in DR Congo and who's parents live there had to have known what was going on. I do, and have no ties with the country at all, just an interest in what goes on in the world (especially Africa). I felt her constant amazement at what was going on detracted from the women's struggle and if she was intent on going there, and finding out more, she should have done some very basic research in the first place.

    As I say, bring it to people's attention please, but get a grip, do some research and take the focus away from how hard you find dealing with it and instead put it on to these brave women who's lives are frankly unimaginable by our standards.

  • Comment number 8.

    I would like to thank all the people involved in the filming of this documentry, especially the bravery of young Jude. How can i help?

  • Comment number 9.

    Shocking. Judith and the documentary team showed how stoic and brave these Congolese women are in the face of such horrors. How can we in the UK help improve their lives and raise this rape plague onto a higher international forum? How can the Congolese government, army and police continue in this cruel way towards women?
    I would like to help.
    Keep spreading the word Judith.

  • Comment number 10.

    I am unspeakably humbled by the immeasurable courage and dignity shown by the Congolese rape victims in this incredibly affecting programme. Many thanks to everyone involved in bringing these attrocities to the attention of the wider global community. I am deeply moved by the plight of these women and their children and would like to know how I can help in some way. Could you please let me have contact details for Judith Wanga and/or any charities that are supporting organisations such as the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Christine's 'Citie de la Joie' or Masika's women's support initiative. Thank you so very much.

  • Comment number 11.

    I was extremely moved by this,it highlighted something that is rarely seen on tv.
    I would like to help in some small way too, any additional information available?

  • Comment number 12.

    Well done Jude! And thank you Fiona for making this programme. This subject has been close to my heart for almost 2 years and I haven't been able to do anything about it. I was born in Congo and left in 1993. I went back in 2008 and was overwhelmed by the things I had seen. I so wanted to help but didn't know where to start and what to do. Tonight I could identify with Jude and couldn't stop crying. There were tears of sadness and hope somehow because I now know that someone is raising awareness on this matter. I would like to get in touch with Judith and Fiona to see how I can help.

  • Comment number 13.

    Thank you BBC3 for empowering us with this excelent program, education/ knowlege this is the only hope for humankind to deal with these difficult and powerfull issues especialy the suppression of women.
    I am humbled by the dygnity and strength of these women.
    This knowlege is now in the hands of mains stream population or at least quite a large part of it again thank you.
    We all can do somthing here with a critcle mass of people policys can start to be achieved ? need to have a chat with micrsoft/apple mac/ sisco sysstems/facebook/twitter....

  • Comment number 14.

    OMG! This has opened my eyes even more. I've always blabed about how much i want to help my country, and i think about it everyday but this docu has just proved how naive i've been and am, bcos watching this...i think its so complicated, how and where do u begin. Thank you Fiona Lloyd-Davies for such an inspiring programme GOD bless you even more and strengthen u, and Judith i can realate to your story (although i came here when i was 6. God bless you too for being so strong, as well as the traumatised women of congo who are more than a ray, a beacon of inspiration to us all. i only hope that we all join to work together and give the WOMEN OF CONGO their VOICE BACK!!!!!!!! please can i get Juith's contact or more info on charities that are helping out, and more so how i can help too!

  • Comment number 15.

    It seems unlikely that something so atrocious could be happening and yet go unnoticed in the global community! There is a lot of tragedy in Africa but somehow this seems to take precedence. It would be useful to know of any agencies that are working to put a stop to this violence, I think anyone watching tonight will be feeling compelled to help.

  • Comment number 16.

    THANK YOU so much jude and fiona for making this programme,I was so touched and moved by it. I am originaly from the drc I came here in the UK in 1992. I was aware of what was going on in the congo but i always felt that the world didn't care the war in the drc was like a forgotten war, the victims ....forgotten i am so glad that i was wrong,i am now full of hope because of people like you fiona raising awareness giving these women a voice and a platform. Please please can you put me in touch with judith or any organisation out there I've always wanted to help or do something but I never knew where to begin, what to do or where to go

  • Comment number 17.

    Thank you for making this film and giving these women a voice. Their bravery and dignity is incredible in a siutation that is hell on earth. Is there a follow up campaign to raise awareness further?

  • Comment number 18.

    just watched this programme i thinks its unberleiviable that this is still happening the women being raped and muterlated its beyond comprheshen.were is the goverment in all this and what are they doing about it.and that little girl of 6 that was raped i had tears in my eyes this should not be happening.i would like to help i no im a man but if we can all stand up and make a voice then the women and children in the congo mite follow and do the same.if there is anything i can i would be more than gratefull to help.

  • Comment number 19.

    That was chilling. As with the others, which charities are the most trusted?

  • Comment number 20.

    So very touching and so very sad, I am shocked that this goes on and that it has not been made more public.

    Does anyone know where to support this cause please? I feel we/I must help in some way.

    Much admiration to all those involved in the documentary & for bringing it to our attention.

  • Comment number 21.

    Like many of you who have posted comments, I was shocked at the contents of the programme and deeply affected by the plight of the women and children of Eastern Congo. The production team involved made a programme which was very hard to watch but utterly compelling. It seemed to me that ignorance of what is going on is a huge part of the problem. Please join my facebook page and invite your friends to join so that as many people as possible become aware of the suffering and show their support for the victims who have to carry on their lives and continue living in the shadow of sickening brutality. Hopefully, through time, things will change.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 22.

    This programme reminds us that the rights and respect women enjoy in this country are not to be taken for granted.

    I would like to support the work of the Panzi Hospital and City of Joy. Having looked on the web it seems there are different organisations through which one can make a donation, but I would like some guidance as to which one is the most direct/efficient.

    I understand that it may be difficult for the producer to favour one site over another, but any suggestions?

  • Comment number 23.

    Thanks for all your comments. I'll get in touch with Fiona and the production team and find out about charities. I'll post the links on here when I get details of the organisations that are wroking in DRC.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thank you Fiona Lloyd, Judith and all the filming team for this moving documentary about the “forgotten and/or abandoned” women of the D.R. Congo!!!
    Many people who have commented on this documentary were surprised to see that the UN is not doing enough to protect and help women in the Eastern D.R. Congo despite it massif presence in the region. In order to start tackling this important question, I believe that we should investigate how individual, developed countries such as the UK, who have veto on most UN mandates, are treating women victims of rape or tortures seeking sanctuary in their countries.
    I will like to get involve in raising awareness of what is happening to our mothers, sisters and daughters in the Eastern D.R. Congo.

  • Comment number 25.

    I watched the programme last night having an Interest in Africa myself being Married to a Ugandan Lady and I thought there were problems there !
    Well I salute you Judith I would not wish that on one of my Daughters and yet as you said in the programme looking away is not an option and I believe that the Women of DRC will prevail. I noted you are a very tech Savvy person have you considered a net presence ? maybe a place on facebook for this cause, you know that a lot can be achieved by this method and I for one would be counted.

    All in all very informative and something that clearly needs to be sorted out. Paul

  • Comment number 26.

    A massive thanks to all involved in making this programme (and especially Jude and Fiona). Yes, it was harrowing to watch, but we could do this from positions of comfort and safety, unlike the women featured in the programme. I do think that we need more programmes like this. We can't turn our backs on the atrocities taking place around the world just because reporting on them doesn't make for feel-good TV.

    FiB, above, asks why the topic of women's situation in the DRC doesn't regularly feature in the news. My feeling is that as a society we're incredibly self-centred and inward looking in our news broadcasting and this needs to change. Listen to the World Service news and you'll hear repeated coverage of the tragedies taking place in the Congo and around the world. Compare this with our news....

    Many of the above comments ask what can be done on an individual level to help women such as those featured in the programme. An immediate response might be 'spread the word'. With the communication possibilities afforded to us by Web 2.0 (Facebook, Twitter and numerous other social networking resources) we're already empowered to compensate for insufficient media coverage by spreading the word ourselves. And do it in person too. Brutal mass rape may not feel like the best topic for social chit-chat but it needs discussing. Philip, above, suggests that education/knowledge is the only way we can change things and I'd certainly agree. However, education and consciousness-raising can start on our doorsteps. For example, anyone working in a teaching capacity in the UK has the chance to increase awareness of the situation in the Congo (and elsewhere) by embedding discussion of these issues within their teaching.

    Dana Stevens, above, mentions the charities and organisations that are working in/for the DRC. Such organisations can only be effective if people know about them and feel passionate about doing something to change things.

    So, to summarise, we each need to spread the word, building on the work of Fiona, Jude and all involved in the programme. We need more broadcasting like this.

  • Comment number 27.

    Heartbroken. Please,please let me know what I can do to help. Would it be possible for you to ask Jude to get in touch with me as I have a few ideas.

  • Comment number 28.

    Moving and shocking documentary.

    So glad it was made to tell the world what is happening to the women in this much-ignored part of the world. Makes me appreciate even more what rights women enjoy in the UK in comparison to many women across the world.

    Am very keen to help in any way I can and am full of admiration for Fiona Lloyd-Davies for her tenacity in making this film and brave women such as Delphine, Christine and Masika who are making a positive difference.

  • Comment number 29.

    Thanks again for all your heartfelt responses to this documentary. Understandably many of you are keen to help, so I've been in touch with the director Fiona Lloyd-Davies to find out which organisations are working in Congo. She's sent me this...
    "This is a fantastic response. Thank you all for finding the time to respond to it and for caring enough to want to do something.
    Here are some links:
    Search For Common Ground
    This organisation works with ex-child soldiers and vulnerable kids. They introduced us to Bintu and Bahati, who Jude talked to in the film. Bintu is the young woman who was a soldier in a militia and Bahati, the remorseful ex-boy soldier. They help them try to learn to live with their experiences and learn new skills through Arts (music and theatre) and Sports. The kids do drumming therapy with women survivors of sexual violence, who are patients at Panzi Hospital, every week. For many of the women it’s the only time they get out of bed all week, because they are so traumatised. Click here.
    City of Joy
    In the film, Jude went to meet Christine Schuler Deschryver who is the V Day director in DRC and in charge of building City of Joy. It will be a safe haven for up to 100 women to come and recover after hospital treatment and learn new skills including women’s leadership. Click here.
    AFEM
    Ridelphine, the young woman who takes Jude into the countryside to record survivors testimony works with this organisation. Click here.
    Hospitals who treat women survivors of sexual violence:
    Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where Jude met the little girl who we called ‘Chloe’ and talks to the director, Dr Denis Mukwege. Click here.
    Heal Hospital This hospital in Goma works with survivors of rape in Congo. Click here.
    There are lots of charities who are working in eastern DRC, try googling
    ‘charities in eastern drc’ to get links to more websites. "

  • Comment number 30.

    I watched this program last night. It was honest, real and moving. It is a shame that it was not well advertised, I hope that it is repeated on a number of occasions so many more people can see it. Our media/society is generally too ready to ignore these awful situations as they do not directly effect us, the more they are talked about, the less they can be ignored!
    A truly brilliant program, that deserves a mazzive amount of praise!

  • Comment number 31.

    Also, with regards to the recent reporting about the BBC not producing good programming anymore, I feel this has shown them to be wrong! The BBC, including the BBC3 make some exceptional and important programs, that other channels wouldn't even go near.

  • Comment number 32.

    To find a facebook page about this issue, search for stop rape of women and children in the DRCongo.

  • Comment number 33.

    Thank you BBC3 for bringing us this amazing documentary. It's so hard to tackle a subject like this with the right balance of light and shade. This is the kind of programming which BBC3 gets just right - making difficult issues accessible (I'm also remembering Blood Sweat and Takeaways which was in a similar vein). So inspired by all the women in this programme and hope that they can succeed in challenging the culture in DRC.

  • Comment number 34.

    Many thanks for this programme.

    I left Bukavu during the violence in 2004 when over 2000 women were raped over a ten day period, primarily by Laurent Nkunda's forces, although government forces were also complicit in extreme violence against women. The catchphrase for Nkunda's offensive was 'Dollares, Telephones, viols' (Dollars, mobilephones, rape)
    At this time, I was convinced that the situation for women, for Congo, could not get any worse, but sadly this seems to be the case.

    As you highlight so well, one major issue is about awareness of the continuing violence, at a community, national and international level.

    another is about support for survivors: health, education, psychosocial support, community support and understanding

    another is about securing accountability and justice against perpetrators: this is possibly most effectively done by targeting the highest level instigators of sexual violence. It is a great sadness to me, as a survivor, that Laurent Nkunda, despite an arrest warrant from the ICC, remains under open 'house arrest' in the luxury in a Kigali safe house, and remains uncharged with the multiple charges of human rights and incitement to sexual violence, particularly in Eastern DRC of which he stands accused.

    His trial may lead to some international accountability which would also help survivors and begin a broader culture of accountability at a national and community level that may begin to reduce the acceptance of sexual violence in the region. Without demanding accountability from those who continue to incite their 'forces' to violate women and their communities, this violence will continue forever.

    Thanks Dana, for the links to organisations working in Bukavu and DRC.
    Would it be possible to pass on information about Masika(sp?)'s organisation, the incredible woman encouraging community reconciliations for survivors which is featured at the end of the documentary?

    Many thanks, and well done Judith and team for necessary and insightful work
    MN

  • Comment number 35.

    Just Google:-

    "Building the City of Joy"

    [Christine's 'Citie de la Joie']

    Why have journalists allowed this to go "unnoticed" and "unreported".
    This is so shocking. I read the Daily Mail and Daily Express every day. Never a mention of the Congo and this trouble.
    But I hear that there is a Lord's Resistance Army - are they doing good work to stop all this?

  • Comment number 36.

    Jude, you did amazing out there, very brave girl. I am a French interpreter and hear the stories of female Congolese asylum seekers who have suffered the same fate as the poor women in your film every day. I would like to help you in your research and awareness raising, as like you, I feel very strongly about the cause and want to help these women. Please contact me if you are able to.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 37.

    Fact number 1: I am very PLEASED to see this powerful documentary as it reminds me the sad but true reality of our world - the poor ALWAYS pays the price, especially when political instability and mismanagement are combined around him.
    Fact number 2: wealthy IT, Electronics and consumer good multinationals who need the mineral resources from DRC all display a Corporate Social Responsibility - pure cosmetic!!!

    As I am currently doing an academic research on CSR for my MBA, I would be interested in purchasing the DVD of this documentary. Could someone tell me how to get a copy. Thanks you.

  • Comment number 38.

    I was moved by this program which is an eye opening for the internatonal community and people living out of the country. i am a congolese myself who had grown up in the eastern Congo. i have viewed the program and realised that this rape problem has been going on in this part of congo for a long period of time. I visited Bukavu myself in 2008 and i have seen that life is really not easy for these women, but at the same time there are some other women who are survivor and living their lives there. The problem is real and women are suffering. As a woman myself i would say that the people who are doing this are Congolese, do we really need an external eye to teach us how to love our mothers, sisters and daughters? If we do then the situation will always exist in this part of the country. I would suggest that us women from congo living abroad with other women fighting for the same cause must stand for and try to find a solution that would promote respect and peace for the women living in the eastern part of the country and the war zone. I would like to be contacted for any event or contribution in regard to this subject. Thanks to Jude and the team for their effort, courage and good job.

  • Comment number 39.

    I agree with all the comments made and I cannot get this programme out of my head whilst I sit in complete luxury with nothing to worry about. I am overwhelmed and sickened to the pit of my stomach at what is happening in DRC and like the other people who have commented would like to do something to help. If we donate can we be sure it gets to where it is most needed? Is there anything else we can do?

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hullo BBC,

    I never got the chance to watch this programme as it was aired soon after the 'Undercover Princesses' which as a Ugandan I got sucked into; the gossip and news sorrounding it yet I remember promising my self to see the programme as it was being advertised. As a Ugandan, Congo is our neighbour and we have a lot in common, that includes the 'Lord Resistence Army' which originated from Uganda and is still brutalising people, mostly women in north East of the Congo.

    Having read about the story, I went to watch it on BBC iPlayer but found it unavailable. Can any one tell me wether it can be availed at a later date or if not shown on another BBC channel preferably BBC1 or BBC2 at some future time?

    Judith- with the support UK, Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and other African women plus a network of supporters from elsewhere, I suggest you start a UK based charity to support the Women back home in Eastern Congo. I will be quite happy to be part of this charity from its inception to helping organising fundraising events like dinners etc.

    Flavia

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Flavia
    You'll be pleased to know that the programme will be repeated again on BBC Three. It will be on next Monday 12 Apr at 2.20 am. Although that is the small hours of the morning it does mean that it will be available on iPlayer for a week after it's on telly. You'll be able to watch it here the next day.
    Hope you get a chance to catch it.

  • Comment number 44.

    I can so relate to Judith's experience, at three my parents sent me to live in the UK and only last year I got reunited with them and we're the same age! So I was so pleased and very emotional to see her reunite with her parents!! It was nice to watch!!

    As for the situation in Bukavu! Well, I am very glad somebody shone some light onto what is going on. I hope that as British-Congolese and the world, we can TRY and make a difference!!

  • Comment number 45.

    JUDE - help BUILD A CITY OF JOY
    We could transform the planet Earth and solve most of our problems if every single girl/woman on Earth had the right to be educated from 5-21.
    Economically, intellectually and hopefully physically independent women in every village town and city. Imagine that.
    Steve
    Maybe even BBC website "journalists" (joke) might understand "irony".

  • Comment number 46.

    Thank you for making this programme, it was a heartbreaking, moving, inspirational, wonderful, gut wrenching, it really made me go through the motions and Jude you truely have been courageous sharing your journey with us, and thank you Fiona for spreading these experiences and the stories.

    Let's build City of Joy!

  • Comment number 47.

    I registered just to leave some feedback , I was so moved. Saw this by chance. This documentary has left me with so much to think about, I never even knew where congo was until I saw this let alone that it is the size of western europe. i've learnt so much from Judiths journey being shared in this way. The amount of people dying there is shocking and horrible in itself let alone the terrible crimes against women and children. I want to understand why aspects of this culture are so evil. and I don't think evil is too strong a word considering these innocent women and children are then rejected by thier families and husbands. Judiths family came accross as really lovely people and i'm glad that you showed that side of the culture too. like judith said herself, it would be so easy to judge. I hope that accountability for these crimes will increase at every level for all perpatrators.

    @ steve above ...the truth is , if you read the mail and express every day you won't be reading acurate news about anything in UK let alone Congo. and also i'm not sure about the 'lords resistance army' but it was an american christian groups influence that has led to the introduction of the death penalty for gay people in Nigeria..it seems clear that a good place to start offering support is to the organisations mentioned by Dana Stevens.

  • Comment number 48.

    Judith, I would just like to say well done for exposing the truth about our continent, Africa. Whether it's Rwanda, Nigeria, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Namibia, South Africa or Congo, the conflict and mind bending atrocities that are perpetuated in these countries all come down to one thing which is: control over natural resources (which Europe and America need) but usually, religious differences and tribal hatred is often used as a smoke screen. You were tipped to be the next woman prime miniter of the UK. Well if Chuka Ummuna could win Streatham, you have my vote, baby girl!

  • Comment number 49.

    This summer I visited New Delhi and found that there is a high rate of crime against women, locals say Delhi as 'Crime Capital of India'. Although it is certainly not the most dangerous place for women in the world, I was surprised to find a high crime rate against women in a country we associate with Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha. Eve-teasing is incredibly high and most women are uncomfortable going out alone after dark. Cell phone service is exceptionally cheap, so I recommend all women unfamiliar with this local to buy a cell phone in case one gets into trouble.

    I have written several articles on women safety here, and there is no doubt that conditions are deteriorating for women in several parts of the world. So Unfortunate !!
    - Diane

  • Comment number 50.

    hi there, I know this was a little while ago now but hopefully those needing to know how to help will see this. The organisation that is funding the City of Joy project shown on this film is the Vday organisation, in cooperation with Unicef. Vday are a world wide organisation led by Eve Ensler (writer of Vagina Monologues) working to eliminate violence against women. Vday's spotlight campaign is helping the women of the DRC through awareness raising and building theCity of Joy. You can find lots of ways to help on their website http://www.vday.org/home

    Best xxxx

  • Comment number 51.

    I am deeply shocked after watching this documentary. I cried when I watched it and I cried afterwards. I feel the need to share my feelings with other people because the film made me so fearful for us human beings, for the cruelty that we are capable of, but most of all, the level of cruelty we are willing to accept when it happens to other people. I admire the dignity of the women. But when you have no way of fighting back, what else is there left, but dignity? What I wish for, most of all, is for them to be angry, and for everyone who saw this film, to be angry. For the sake of humanity, please, rage for these women and these girls!

  • Comment number 52.

    I saw this program in the Middle East yesterday. A war is always a brutal inhuman thing. And, rape by fighters is as old as war and human history itself. These are never people who are mentally normal at combat. My question is why do the hospitals not abort when a rape has been reported. It was pretty clear in the documentary that these cases were being reported to the hospitals and they had statistics on it. It is easy to cry crocodile tears on the fate of the children born to rape victims, but is this something to do with religion or the rules of local society --- where abortion is not permitted?

  • Comment number 53.

    i watched the documentary yesterday and loved it because it shows the true face of the consequences of the congolese war.
    i'm rwandese and i have heard alot of stories of women's rape during the genocide and their sure need support from the whole community refering on that man who didn't want to take back his raped wife and maseka was pleading and i'm sure he agreed because he saw the tv people but this is the kind of attitude that people should be educated about because raped women are so traumatized and if they are also abandoned by their families they won't cope with life.
    also the man who was telling jude about the numbers said that children born from rape are "bombe a retardement"meaning that if they are not taken care of they will be a big threat to the region and i agree with him.
    Nevertheless,i congratulate Jude and Fiona for the courage.
    Christine for her brilliant idea which i know in the long run will help alot but overall i was so moved by Maseka and story because few manage to stand up and fight after encountering such atrocities!!

  • Comment number 54.

    Thank you so much fiona for this documentary.And well done tu jude.

  • Comment number 55.

    Dana Stevens, above, mentions the charities and organisations that are working in/for the DRC. Such organisations can only be effective if people know about them and feel passionate about doing something to change things.

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm hoping to catch this programme tonight.
    For those of you struggling to understand the brutality that exists in this part of the world, I can suggest two excellent books:
    "King Leopold's Ghost" by Adam Hochschild (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Leopold's_Ghost)
    and
    "In The Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz" by Michela Wrong.

  • Comment number 57.

    If ever there was a reason to go into a country by force to help rescue a people then surely the incredibly brave Jude has shown us this. I hope to be in a position to help in the poorest places in the world but this cause has definitely been added to my list - words like "torture", "brutality" and "inhumane cruelty" are not enough to describe the hell on earth these poor women are enduring but, however you describe it, it has GOT to stop. Where the root of this situation began I don't know but its probably that some "women hating" men managed to get enough power to start the snowball of child brainwashing rolling to help them take their revenge on some women who rejected or ridiculed them at some point in their past. The good people of the world have to stand up and say "No" to the small groups of people who try to destroy this wonderful world and life we have been given. I write this as a far from perfect man who is reading "The Other Hand" by Chris Cleave which describes similar stories in Nigeria and has been shocked and appalled beyond incredulity by what our fathers and brothers are doing to our sisters and mothers. I think that much conflict is fuelled by greed or by a people not having "enough" and that if there is prosperity in a community then a lot of crime would be reduced. I don't know if some people are just inherently evil but for so many people to commit so much attrocity makes me think that they were corrupted somehow and the root needs to be discovered and undone by those that do have the ability. Governments are supposed to represent the people and I think the vast majority of people would want this dealt with without delay, lets hope they listen and give our soldiers a prideful job. I'll be helping you as soon as I can Jude - power to you ....

  • Comment number 58.

    Thank you Fiona and team for the many years of hard work taken to eventually create this shocking film to enlighten us about the critical situation women face just living in the congo.... leaves us feeling frustrated and angry on their behalf. How can we help affect change there? I will support anything i can to help bring change about...
    An amazing programme, thank you BBC for making this possible.

  • Comment number 59.

    what a moving documentary. all tho it was so heartbreaking to watch. how must those women cope, if we felt such sadness and anger at how they have no rights. one thing that amazed me was the support that is there for women from women and the calmness when they are all together. I think people need to open their eyes and help . i would love to help any ideas would be appreciated thank you Judith Fiona and BBC x

  • Comment number 60.

    What I came away with from this amazing programme were two things. Firstly, many many thanks to you all for making it. And secondly, how do we play our part in not buying in to the IT purchases that are supporting the mining that is fuelling the conflict and rapes? I don't know what mobile phone or laptop is better than any other. Can anyone help with this? Is there an ethical / fairtrade IT mobile phone provider?

  • Comment number 61.

    this really affected me, especially having 2 very young girls of my own, i can't even imagine the helplessness these women feel when their children are attacked in front of them and the pain the babes go through, or rather i can and it brings tears to my eyes, i want to help the vulnerable escape. please, please tell me how i can help.
    i want to know how we can help them build a safe haven for themselves, defend themselves and how we can help the women and children who have been through enough to escape and make better lives for their babies.
    It's wrong and sick and it has to be stopped.

 

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