Healing the physical and emotional wounds of sexual violenceApr 24, 2017
After more than a decade of conflict in which rape has been used as a weapon, sexual violence is sadly a fact of life for both women and men in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Congolese men and women are working courageously to eradicate this scourge. Here are some of their stories
“Reversing the trend calls for a great effort to raise awareness. We organize workshops, seminars, and radio programmes to keep citizens informed. And what is our biggest challenge? Educating families and the general public because many people ignore the law.” — Yava Muteb.
Eugénie is a facilitator for a victims’ support association in Komanda, a three-hour drive from Bunia. She coordinates the creation and support of income-generating associations for the victims.
As a community leader, she also serves as a counsellor for victims of rape and accompanies them to the hospital: “They trust me, and even come to see me in my home when they are not feeling well. I try to help them at all levels, be it psychological, economic or legal.”
“In our project of income-generating associations, women have been able to achieve great goals. A positive change in people’s lives can always be made, even after they have experienced the worst kind of abuse. Out of 44 project participants, 35 are still pursuing their business enterprises successfully. A change has even taken place in their households: acceptance by husbands and the larger community of women who have been raped.”
The testimonies above are those of grass-roots participants in the “Tupinge Ubakaji” programme funded by Canada in the amount of US$18 million. The programme is implemented jointly by UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO and UNJHRO. In 2016, out of a total of 5,795 victims provided with medical or psycho-social care, 1,755 cases were brought to court, out of which 783 judgements were handed down (79.6 percent convictions and 20.4 percent acquittals).
In terms of reintegration, 1,729 adult beneficiaries (1,560 women and 169 men) and 665 minors (635 girls and 30 boys) have restarted socio-economic and educational activities.
In addition, 5,797 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, 5,695 women and 102 men, have had access to medical and psycho-social care.
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