There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies. In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have separated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adequate rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.
Joelle was 15 years old when she was kidnapped by NDC/Cheka (Nduma défense du Congo/Cheka) elements.
I was coming home from the field in Fatua village where I worked when I was taken by an armed man and forced to be with a Mayi Mayi Cheka [element]. He used me for sex for ten months before I escaped and went to [names the NGO].
Narrative provided by MONUSCO in their report ‘Invisible Survivors: Girls in Armed Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2009 to 2015’