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Congo militias used schoolgirls as human shields believing their ‘magical powers’

NAIROBI: Schoolgirls in the Democratic Republic of Congo were raped, forced into marriage and used as human shields by militias who believed they had “magical powers” during violence over a year ago, an investigation by a group of charities said on Monday.
The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said its research into the year-long violence in Congo’s central Kasai region, which largely ended in 2017, found that female students suffered multiple abuses by armed groups. Based on interviews with over 55 students and teachers, the report documents testimonies from survivors and witnesses of how militiamen attacked hundreds of schools - kidnapping girls for sexual slavery, forced marriage and to serve as child soldiers.
“Militias believed in girls’ magical powers, and often used them as the first line of defense to rustle their skirts to ward off soldiers with guns,” said Diya Nijhowne, GCPEA’s executive director. Armed only with a broom or kitchen utensil, young girls were placed on the frontlines, said the report, as they were believed to possess powers. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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