KAIROS partnership with Héritiers de la Justice cited in Globe & Mail

This March 15 Globe & Mail article by Geoffrey York cites the work of KAIROS as giving “strength and courage” in a country where aid has gone astray.
The text below, written by Geoffrey York, is available only in the print version.
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“In her hilltop village, in a tiny mud hut with a banana-leaf roof, Eliza M’kazine subsisted in a life of numbness and fear. She could not shake the memory of the three armed men in camouflage uniforms who raped her and her daughter. “I was like a dead person,” she said. “Whenever I saw a man walking toward me, I was afraid that it was a soldier, coming to rape me again.”

Refuge seemed impossible. She had fled the site of the rape, but she was attacked again last year by another group of military men who looted her new home and stole everything, including her clothes and her goats and rabbits.

Ms. M’kazine was counting on help from a Congolese human-rights group, Héritiers de la justice, which promised to train her to instruct sexually assaulted women about their legal rights. The program was to be launched this year with $75,000 from Canada. “It gave me strength and courage,” Ms. M’kazine said.

But the program was cancelled. The Canadian government abruptly halted its grants to KAIROS, the Canadian church charity that was supporting the Congolese human-rights group. Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney said it was because of the charity’s position on Israel. After a storm of controversy, he said it was actually because the charity did not meet the government’s “current priorities,” such as increased food aid.

Ms. M’kazine said she was disappointed in the cancellation. “So many women here have been attacked – so many that I can’t count them. Other women were raped in the forest and they can’t leave their homes to get help.” Maurice Namwira, executive secretary of Héritiers de la justice, says he felt as if he was “drowning” when he learned that Ottawa was cutting the funds for his justice project. But he vowed to find a way to continue on a smaller scale. “We are not going to stay silent, because those victims have rights,” he said.

“Rape is becoming a weapon of war, and women have become the battlefield. They have to learn how to protect themselves, and how to unite with other women to become stronger. If they don’t know that they have the right to justice, anyone can rape them and there will be silence.”

Ms. M’kazine, now a 50-year-old grandmother, says she still faces discrimination in her village because she was raped and her husband was abducted by the rapists.”

Learn more about the courageous work of Maurice Namwira and KAIROS partner Héritiers de la Justice

Read Maurice’s letter to Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda on days after learning that the Canadian government had cut KAIROS’ funding.

Filed in: Africa

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