Minor sues judge for rape

19.10.2016

Stella was thirteen years old when she was raped by a judge. She is now defended by a Congolese lawyer trained by TRIAL.

Born to a family of five siblings, Stella (real name withheld) lived with her parents. Although she attended school in suburbs of Bukavu, financial difficulties forced her family to send her to her aunt’s home to earn some money before resuming her studies.

At her aunt’s village, Stella met Judge E.K. who lived next door. He invited her over various times to win her trust and, aware of her predicament, he gave her money.

 

Poisoned chalice

Gradually, the friendly tone of Judge E.K. changed as he began to allude to marriage. Despite Stella rejecting his advances and knowing that she was a minor, he became more persistent. He claimed to be a lonely man who needed a woman in his life. He consistently repeated that she would not lack so long as she became his wife.

Intimidated and caught off guard, the young girl yielded to the judge’s advances and agreed to engage in a sexual relationship.

According to Congolese law, sexual intercourse with a minor is considered statutory rape, irrespective of the minor’s acquiescence or refusal.

A few days later, Judge E.K. left the village without looking back. Shortly after his departure, Stella was faced with the grim reality that she was expecting.

Upon returning to Bukavu, she hid her condition to her family for a long as she could. When she was five months pregnant, Stella finally confided in her mother, who with the support of a pastor, decided to litigate the matter in court.

Legal procedure

TRIAL International has supported both mother and daughter throughout all the stages of the lawsuit. Thanks to the NGO, their testimony was heard by a prosecutor. They are also backed by a local lawyer who was trained by TRIAL International.

These efforts resulted in Judge E.K. being prosecuted before an Appeals Court of Bukavu, where his trial began on 13 October 2016.

The life of Stella has taken a turn for the worse since her fateful encounter with E.K. As is the case of most victims of rape, she was rejected by her community and can only rely on her family. Her baby was born prematurely and requires constant medical care, further weighing down on her family’s meagre resources. Psychologically, Stella has become a shadow of her former self: she suffers from depression and cannot seem to get ahead. Her studies have come to a standstill.