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D R Congo: Prostitution of underage girls in Bukavu , South Kivu

Summary & Comment: One of the most harrowing consequences of war is the large scale prostitution and sexual exploitation of underage girls by profiteers and predators in the South Kivu Province of DRC. Evidence in the form of personal accounts of two girls one as young as 14, as well as brothels nicknamed as ‘schools’ bare testimony to this base phenomena. The article calls for three tier recommendations to address this type of egregious violation. (Posted by Achieng Akena; translation by Marie Dowler)

Author: GAOP le Lun Date Written: 18 February 2007
Primary Category: Gender Document Origin: Le SocieteCivile.cd – la portail de la société civile en RDC
Secondary Category: Central Region Source URL: http://www.societecivile.cd/node/2591
Key Words: Democratic Republic of Congo, Child Prostitution, Girl child, Children’s Rights,

Printable Version
Prostitution of underage girls in Bukavu , South Kivu
 - One of the evils of the war - large scale prostitution 

I. Facts

Despite the efforts of some organizations for the defence and protection of children, and of state institutions, some of our fellow citizens are still doing very well out of what one could call `the sexual exploitation of underage girls.'  In fact, in Bukavu, in the Chahi (Gasolene) quarter, several buildings with full public knowledge contain houses sheltering women and young girls openly practising the oldest profession in the world. Here is some first hand evidence.

II. Evidence 

1. My name is Dor. . .
I was born in 1992, I live in Igoki, in the Bagira commune. I am 14, I am a prostitute. When my parents separated, when I was 8, I had to give up my schooling for want of money. I was forced to live with my mother in a tiny apartment generally known as the `campus', where she used to take in men for sex. When my mother was out, the clients (adults, young men, ) would find me alone and abuse me too, telling me, `Like mother, like daughter'. This was how I learnt my trade, which brings me $0.5 a trick (sexual encounter). Now I am already experienced and I give myself a little chanvre (valium) to keep up my strength so that I can service several men a day.

 2. My name is Sha . . .
I was born in Kasika in 1978. Very young, I had a daughter who is now 16. I take medication to avoid pregnancy. Since my prayers were never answered, I got discouraged and began to prostitute myself when I was very young. In the neighbourhood, they call me `en fous na dunia' (Fed up with life).

Numerous similar cases can be found in this part of Bukavu.

This phenomenon became more widespread from the start of the years of crisis in the DR Congo (1990 ). Houses of prostitution have sprung up like mushrooms since then. Still, the defenders of children's rights managed to close down one of the houses, known as `Chez Chikiza' last month. Nevertheless others continue to operate.  One such is the house called `Munganga School' in reference to the high number of underage girls to be found in this house. Its owner makes them pay a daily rent of 2 dollars a room. All kinds of men frequent this place, some of them among those who are supposed to be punishing the practice.

III. Recommendations 

For the politico-administrative authorities:
- to ban and order the closing of all houses of prostitution which make use of
  minors for exploitation and sexual abuse, 
- to encourage the formal education of young girls.
- to introduce free primary education, as laid down in the constitution of the RD

For the Associations for the Defense of Children's Rights
- to continue the struggle against the sexual exploitation of children
- to spread knowledge of the Charter relative to Children's Rights in the local

For the people:
- to denounce any degrading conduct involving the physical and moral integrity of
  the child. 

Printable Version

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