The Cost Of War For Women -- By: Médine Moussounga Keener

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 26:1 (Winter 2012)
Article: The Cost Of War For Women
Author: Médine Moussounga Keener


The Cost Of War For Women

Médine Moussounga Keener

Medine Moussounga Keener received her PhD from the University of Paris and is Coordinator of Family Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary. Having spent eighteen months as a refugee in Congo Brazzaville, she has firsthand experience concerning the plight of African women. She lives with her husband, Craig, and their son, David, in Kentucky.

Africa has been the theater of many wars in the past decades, and the Congos are no exception. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Congo Brazzaville have been in war both simultaneously and at different times. Even though the DRC has garnered most of the publicity in the West because of its size, the length of the war periods, and its strategic economic position in Africa, Congo Brazzaville1 has also experienced war and its many consequences.

War is by no means a reasonable event in the eyes of most of its innocent victims, and they are affected differently by it. Through a biographical sketch of Melanie2 and her experiences in war, we will assess the ordeal of war for women.

A Dangerous Journey

Melanie was born on May 14, 1968, in the Republic of the Congo. By the time war started in that nation in 1997, she was a senior at Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville. Conflicts were intermittent in the capital until December 1998, when Brazzaville fell into the hands of the Cobras.3 Many left the capital city on foot, by train, or by plane (for those who could afford it), and Melanie was one of them. She came by train to live in Dolisie with her family—yet war came to that town, too.

On that fateful day (January 25, 1999) when war started in Dolisie, Melanie, one of her sisters, her ten-year-old niece, her two brothers, and a cousin woke up to the noise of shooting and bombing. Gripped with fear, Melanie was so traumatized that immediately she became ill. The noise and smell of the bombing took its toll on many people. It was not surprising to see women (especially) suffering from fever, diarrhea, and vomiting right at the beginning of the war.

One of the first things to happen during war is gripping fear. In the streets, panic-stricken people try to find safety. Questions like “Where do I go?” “How do I get there?” “What do I take?” and “Who comes with me?” come to mind frequently. To picture the scene, imagine people running in every direction, shouting names and crying; and, on the streets, throngs of people with loads on their heads, and women with children in their arms or on their backs, leaving their homes and...

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