BOSTON — “They asked me to come talk about violence against women in Congo,” began Maman Jeanne Kasongo, founder and president of the Kinasha-based Shalupe Foundation.
Wearing a traditional Congolese dress in striking orange and yellow hues on Friday, she stood at the conference podium for a long, silent moment before continuing. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to say.”
But Kasongo did know what to say, and what came next unlocked new dimensions in the discourse surrounding rape in Democratic Republic of Congo—also known as the rape capital of the world. Kasongo was addressing a conference on gender violence in the DRC, hosted by Boston University’s Public School of Health in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center. She argued that in order to eliminate rape, it is first necessary to delve into the DRC's deep history of violence.