This is Patience’s* story
“I live in eastern DRC in Ituri with my young son. I am a member of a cooperative. In 2002, when I was still a minor, I was raped by two militiamen. When I was 15 years old, I joined that same militia, and after three months of training, I was a soldier.
One Tuesday at around 10am, I started shooting at the enemy. It’s a horrible story that I don’t like to tell because of what I experienced, what I suffered, what I did. It was horrible in the bush with the militia, I had no consideration for others. I took an active part in several expeditions and finally I decided in mid-2006 to withdraw from the bush. I managed to find a demobilisation programme nearby. Women working in the mine were exposed to all kinds of violence. Some practised prostitution, others debauchery. The work of women in the mine is deplorable and unacceptable.
I managed to find a programme nearby for former fighters. I got married but still could not adapt to home life. I suffered from trauma, I felt alone, and my husband was scorned for marrying a militia woman. I got divorced to join the mine, but the men mistreated us, the women had no rights, we earned very little, and with difficulty.