Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REVISITED

After key battle, Syrian town of Kobane looks to the future

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'War is not an option,' says former FARC guerrilla leader

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Madagascar political crisis: top court orders formation of unity government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Ireland's abortion referendum

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Weinstein in court; Ireland abortion vote; Italy's populist takeover

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Sugar and spice: The flavours of the French Caribbean

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

The French are so rude! Or are they?

Read more

ENCORE!

The writing's on the wall: Revolutionary posters from May 68

Read more

REPORTERS

'We heard there might be a civil war': May 68 seen from abroad

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2017-09-08

In DR Congo, karate helps rape victims rebuild their lives

For the past three years, Frenchwoman Laurence Fischer, a three-time world karate champion, has travelled to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo to help female victims of rape. Alongside the renowned surgeon Dr. Mukwege, the top athlete teaches these traumatised women self-defence and tries to help them regain self-confidence and rebuild their lives.

Once a week, in Bukavu, on the shores of Lake Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sandra and a dozen other women swap their long coloured skirt for a white kimono. On the tatami, they meet up with their coach, Franck Kwabe. He is a black belt in karate, and the assistant of Laurence Fischer, a former world champion. Kwabe is a student and in his spare time, he teaches self-defence to these traumatised women.

Acquiring strength and endurance

The classes take place at the Panzi Foundation, an institution created in 2008 by Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist and surgeon who rebuilds women's lower abdomens and repairs the bayonet wounds on their chests. In eastern DRC, a region plagued by conflict, rape is used as a weapon of war and women find themselves on the front line. Every year, thousands of them suffer shocking sexual abuse.

>> On France 24, also watch our documentary: "Denis Mukwege, the Congolese doctor who 'heals' raped women"

For one week, Laurence Fischer, a three-time world champion who retired from professional karate in 2006, takes over the classes. For the past ten years, the Frenchwoman has chosen to help women who are victims of violence across the world, like in the DRC. The karate champion gives her lessons free of charge. They are aimed at boosting both physical and mental capacities: "Thanks to karate, these women realise that they have strength. They also acquire endurance and concentration. They will need strength, endurance and concentration to meet the challenges ahead,” she explains.

'When I practise karate, my fear evaporates'

This is certainly the case for Sandra, who was raped at the age of 16 by a neighbour. She is the most assiduous of all the students and would not miss a karate class for anything in the world. Unable to speak on arrival at the centre, she is now full of life and has found the strength to rebound: "When I practise karate, my fear evaporates," the teenager says with a smile. Sandra would have liked to learn how to defend herself earlier, to be able to stand up to her attacker. In turn, she has decided to pass on karate to the girls in her neighbourhood so that they don't experience the same ordeal as her.

By Katya CLARENS , Thomas NICOLON , Bastien RENOUIL

Archives

2018-05-25 May 68

'We heard there might be a civil war': May 68 seen from abroad

In France, May 1968 has become a symbol of young people and workers in revolt. But how were the events viewed outside the country? FRANCE 24 looks back at the international...

Read more

2018-05-18 Middle East

Beyond the conflict: Reporter's notebook in modern-day Israel

Israel regularly makes headlines, but there is more to the country than the conflict with the Palestinians. FRANCE 24 reports from a young but highly developed nation, a holy...

Read more

2018-05-11 Middle East

Video: Stateless in Palestine

What does life in the West Bank look like under Israeli occupation? Our reporters travelled to Area C, to meet the women and men who live on lands coveted by Israeli settlers....

Read more

2018-04-27 France

Video: The Foreign Legion, another French exception

Shrouded in mystery and prestige, the French Foreign Legion is just as feared by its enemies as it is envied by its allies. The legionnaires come from across the world, prepared...

Read more

2018-04-20 Africa

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Every year, China slaughters millions of donkeys to make Ejiao, a traditional medicine hailed as a ‘miracle elixir’ which is used to treat various ailments. As China’s donkey...

Read more