The mothers of Kavumu hardly sleep. But on rainy nights, they don’t even try. The rain pounds on their tin roofs so noisily that they worry they won’t hear rapists breaking in to steal their daughters. So they sit up all night, just watching their front doors.
Since 2013, 49 young children, one only 18 months old, have been abducted from flimsy houses in this town in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – and raped. The alleged ringleader of the militia responsible, an MP, was arrested earlier this year, but it is common knowledge in Kavumu that many of their daughters’ “destroyers”, as they call them, are still at large.
“I’m scared. In my area, everyone’s scared,” said Felicia, the mother of a nine-year-old girl, Charlotte, who was raped last year and who sits in silence next to her.