Overcoming Violence

Stories of Gender Based Violence

Hawa Mutuwa

Activist

Hawa Mutuwa

In Congo the leaders cooperate across religious boundaries against violence and in favor of rights for women. In this way they also strengthen the precarious peace.

We meet Hawa Mutuwa, the leader of the cross-religious female network in Bukavu right after she partook in a demonstration in the streets:

-We are in a community consisting of several women’s organizations working together for getting more women on the lists for the election of the local board, and for women’s participation being part of the election law and as such a part of the constitution. This day there has been demonstrations ten places in North and South Kivu, she explains.

-I am strengthened by this demonstration. It gives me the inspiration to fight for women’s rights. The authorities are aware of us - they know our claims by now!

Mutual respect

-To be together across our religions is important in order to build understanding, and in order to simply learn to respect and love each other. In the past we had difficulties in understanding each other. I remember that the Christians used to think that we Moslems carried evil spirits. That is a strange thing to recall now when we respect each other. The work they do in the group is very visible in the Moslem society in town:

-Before I couldn’t be seen out together with another man than my own or my brothers. Now I can walk freely to meetings and cooperate with men as well as with women. My husband is proud of it. Before women were not allowed to be with groups of men in the mosque, but now it is okay.

Interreligious authority

The network across the religious boundaries represents a considerable power in society. Topics that are enhanced and given importance by religious leaders, will be respected and acknowledged.

-When we speak up against violence and oppression we reduce conflicts and prevent new ones. Together we have produced a document that shows how both the Bible and the Koran emphasizes the Human Rights. It will be sent to all churches and mosques in the district, and when this message is being preached from the pulpits it will create positive changes, says Hawa Mutuwa.

As a woman and a Moslem she knows a lot about marginalization and she is convinced that Congo had been a better country if women had political power.

-In my opinion women are more prone to share and to refrain from corruption than men! If we were in charge, women’s rights would have been implemented. I know that a woman can lead political processes and become a president, she says.

Norwegian Church Aid carries out substantial works in The Democratic Republic of Congo. One of our central fields is giving support and help to women who are victims of violence and abuse in two rehabilitation centers in North Kivu and Bukavu. Here we cooperate closely with Denis Mukwege, who is in charge of the Panzi Hospital for victims of violence, adjoining the NCA-supported rehabilitation centre Dorcas’ house. Norwegian Church Aid works also among different religious communities in Congo in order to prevent violence and conflict and to encourage peace-building.

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