Uganda: Out of the pan into the fire
18 March 2009

Like Bakola, many women become victims of sexual violence in places where they sought refuge. (Angela Hellmuth/JRS)
Her children were hungry and sick. Having no help for some time committing suicide appeared as the only solution to her.
Kampala, 18 March 2009 – Bakola* is a Congolese refugee woman living in Uganda. Like many others she was forced to flee from her country in 2000 and sought refuge in neighbouring Burundi. 

Since her husband was murdered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) she was alone with four children and she did not knowing what to do when she first arrived. 

Her children were hungry and sick. Having no help for some time committing suicide appeared as the only solution to her. 

With the support of JRS she started a tailoring business, a skill she had brought from the DRC. She opened a small stall where she sold her clothes and with the money she earned managed to meet the needs of her children. She was able to pay for their food, education, accommodation and medication.

Raped and beaten

In June 2007, Bakola was attacked and raped by six men in front of her children while she was at home, preparing them for school. Finally they hit her almost to death and looted all they could find. 

This tragic experience left her with deep wounds. A baby she gave birth to afterwards and a pain remaining in her back often bring back the dark memories. 

Today, JRS provides Bakola with financial support for paying her rent and food. She was referred to the African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) where she now receives specific medication and attends counseling sessions. 

A new perspective

The support she receives helps her cope with the past and regain hope for the future. “I have accepted my last born son and can now see his innocence and God's love when I look into his eyes,” she says.

Like Bakola many other women and children flee due to atrocities in their countries of origin only to be confronted with the same experience in the country of asylum. Many remain without support, their cases not being noticed or attended to. 


*not her real name