“I exposed myself to rape while looking for drinking water”

A few weeks ago, I met Carine, a 15-year-old girl. She lives in Dipa, a peripheral district of Mbuji-Mayi City in Kasai Oriental Province. One day, Carine had a very high fever and was taken to the health center. The nurse quickly diagnosed typhoid fever as a result of drinking unsafe water.

The family has always used water from the Kanshi River, located a few meters from the house, without knowing that this water endangered their health. After a few days of treatment, Carine was cured. Before returning home, the nurse advised the girl’s parents to use only drinking water for drinking and housework to protect the family from waterborne diseases.

The nearest tap was about 5 kilometers from the house. The only daughter in the family, Carine was forced to walk 10 kilometers every day, on foot, to get her drinking water. The girl got up at 4am to get to the tap, which once exposed her to rape. “One morning as I rushed to the top of the queue, a man hiding in the bush between my home and the water supply point attracted me and forced me to to follow him in the darkness, “ Carine told in tears. The girl, frightened, shouted with all her might to alert other women who were coming for water. “They heard my screams and rescued me,” Carine concludes.

Water is life

The problem of drinking water in Mbuji-Mayi is recurrent. Carine and her family are not the only victims of lack of water. Yet, the Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that every child has the right to be protected and treated from diseases, to drink and to eat enough to grow up in good health. I ask the city authorities to take all possible measures to ensure access to drinking and quality water near households, for all children.

Kindly translated from French by Sophie Bassi

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Olga est présidente des Enfants Reporters de la province du Kasaï-Oriental.

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