'Each Time I Have a Nightmare I Get Up and Pray:' Rape Victim from Central African Republic
Contact: Jerry Dykstra, Open Doors USA, 616-915-4117, [email protected]
SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 25, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- On August 20, two days after Michel Djotodia was appointed president of the transition following the March coup in Central African Republic (CAR), his Muslim Seleka soldiers celebrated by going on a wild spree through the capital of Bangui. They attacked people and plundered their homes. The rebels crisscrossed the streets while stealing cars, appliances and computers.
There was no peace for the inhabitants of Cité de la Paix, a suburb seven miles from central Bangui either. In this impoverished enclave there were no valuables to take...only lives to destroy. The rebels arrived with the express purpose to murder and rape.
Suzanne (her real name protected for security concerns), 16, watched in fear as the Seleka rebels arrived in Cité de la Paix.
"There were many of them," she recalls. "They surrounded the area and divided into smaller groups before going into houses, one after another. As we heard the sound of their weapons, we sought shelter inside homes. My mother and I tried to hide with our neighbors in their house.
"But they broke into it. They caught us. They gagged us and forbade us to shout. One of them raped me. Another man raped our neighbor's daughter. Then they left as if nothing had happened. My mother was right there, beside me, and saw everything. She was completely helpless as she watched what was happening to me."
Suzanne found some help at a local clinic. "I experienced terrible stomach ache," she says. "They gave me medicine that soothed the pain."
But the emotional effect of Suzanne's terrible experience will take much longer to heal.
"I cannot stop thinking about what happened," she says. "I have many nightmares. My grandparents and my foster parents tell me not to think about it anymore and to pray. God was there when it happened. He knew and He saw it. What can I do? God saw. God knows. I leave it to Him.
"Each time I have a nightmare, I get up and pray. After that, I am able to sleep again. I ask God to prevent others to live through the same things I have lived through. I also pray to God to touch the hearts of the people who are able to help us stop this violence and bring back peace to our country. I ask Him to forgive my aggressors for what they did to me."
For Suzanne there is no hope of justice in the foreseeable future. "For now, the ones who did this to her are the ones that enforce the law," explains an Open Doors source from Bangui.
Open Doors is ministering to victims of rape in CAR. The ministry has enabled a number of women who have been raped to obtain medical attention. Open Doors is also assisting with trauma counseling for the women. However, the restoration of stability in the country is a prerogative for any sustainable assistance.
Since the Muslim Seleka coup in March, the country has been engulfed in anarchy. Warlords and militia continue to loot, rape and murder. After facing months of victimization, the mostly Christian and Animist local population started forming self-defense groups in September to counter the marauding Seleka. These self-defense groups have now fought back against some Muslims, raising fears of interfaith genocide and inviting brutal reprisal from Seleka.
"The situation in the Central African Republic is growing more tense and worrisome every day," declares Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry. "It's not a world focus right now, but the situation should be. Please join me in prayer that the violence will not increase and Christians and Muslims can live in peace and freedom for all."
For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians by supplying Bibles and Christian literature, training Christian leaders, facilitating social/economic projects and uniting believers in the West in prayer for Christians, who are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Open Doors USA Media Relations Director Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected].)