14 March 2017

Sexual Violence in the DRC: NGOs Involved in Fighting Testify to the Progress Achieved in Three Years

Photo: Office of the Personal Representative in Charge of the Fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment (Kinshasa)
Evolution of conflict-related sexual violence in RDC. Source: 2013, 2014 and 2015 Reports by the United Nations Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence in the world

Targeted by armed groups spreading insecurity for two decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been transformed into a breeding ground for sexual violence, used as weapons of war to weaken an already battered population and victim of its resources. It is against this background that the country has been called the "world capital of rapes" during the visit in 2010, by Margot Wallström, then Special Representative on sexual violence in the United Nations. The DRC is today on its way to becoming a reference in efforts to combat this dehumanising practice. This at least is the view of Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations on sexual violence in conflict, who welcomed this achievement during her stay in Kinshasa in October 2016.

Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, who came to participate in the conference held from 11 to 13 October 2016 in the Congolese capital, on the state of the implementation of the joint communiqué signed between the DRC government and the United Nations on the fight against conflict sexual violence, hailed the efforts made by the various partners, after fierce efforts, which helped reduce by half the cases of rapes reported. She has particularly paid tribute to the Office of the personal representative of the Head of State in charge of the fight against sexual violence and the recruitment of children (BRP), chaired by Ms. Jeanine Mabunda, who, in three years, put herself into it to ensure that cases of reported rapes were systematically punished by Justice.

Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura believes that in 2016, the progress achieved makes the DRC "a laboratory for experimenting successful experiences and models to be shared with other nations in the world".

A synergy aimed to coordinate the fighting efforts

The non-governmental organisations involved in the fight against sexual violence recognize that joint efforts made with national and international public institutions as well as with the private sector have contributed to some progress on the ground.

Through coordinating the actions of the players involved in the fight against sexual violence, the Office of the personal representative has spearheaded a synergy between various partners, both national and international. Although this cross fight still requires sustained efforts, their close collaboration favoured the implementation of several initiatives (see Annexes):

-       strengthening the coordination of interventions in the fight against sexual violence with a particular focus on the publication of statistics;

-       intensifying prosecution;

-       intensifying the socio-economic reintegration actions of survivors of sexual violence;

-       and intensifying the prevention actions and outreach regarding the laws on sexual violence.

"In December 2016, mobile hearings, supported by the Office of the Personal Representative, were organized and the Military Operational Court judged eight rape cases, six of which were convicted and two servicemen acquitted," said Vinciane Sibka Sibka, NGO ACOPE / Béni.

She added, "Thanks to the project of raising small livestock, solution to the poverty of the rural woman in Lubero territory, financed by the Office of the Personal Representative, UEFR, Associations working for the respect of the Rights of the woman And the education of rural women and the AFFEPSAE organized training sessions for women from 6 villages in Lubero territory on livestock techniques. The same project has given 50 trained women, kit breeding and guinea pigs that they will raise in groups ".

In addition, "Thanks to this committed struggle and the advocacy carried out by the Office of the Personal Representative, the NGO AMAB was able to reintegrate 283 beneficiaries, including 55 pupils for school reintegration, in Bunia and its surroundings in October / 2016", "Said Ms. Béatrice Dive of the NGO AMAB, based in Ituri.

Concrete results

This institutionalised commitment has translated into concrete results, as discussed at the conference on sexual violence, held in October 2016. This progress is based on statistics published mainly by various reports from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. These data are collected by the Mission of the United Nations for stability in DRC (MONUSCO), UNFPA and UNHCR. With a special focus on conflict-related rapes and the international agreement signed between the DRC and the United Nations, these reports remain the sole public source taken into account to assess in a neutral evolution of this phenomenon once presented as "world capital of rapes" and which became "successful experiences lab", According to Ms. Zainab Bangura, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the fight against sexual violence related to conflicts.

Statistical data from these reports from 2013 to 2015 show a decline in the number of cases of sexual conflict-related violence in the DRC. Thus, at the conference on conflict-related sexual violence in the DRC, the United Nations, through the Special Representative, Mrs Bangura, made public that there is a 50% decrease in number of conflict-related sexual violence (see figure 2). The number of cases of conflict-related sexual violence in target areas went from 15 352 to 7 751.

Convinced, however, that much remains to be done, non-governmental organisations suggest the prioritisation of such a national policy based on the effective coordination of responses by all the national and international actors in this fight; insisting through laws for the effective compensation of sexual violence victims and focusing on a continued collaboration with the army and the police, a higher risk factor for the spread of sexual violence in conflict settings.

Signatories :

ONGs of Kinshasa, meeting on January 05, 2017:

1. Comité National des Femmes et Développement « CONAFED »

2. Agence pour la Promotion de la Nouvelle Citoyenneté et le Développement « APNCD »

3. Centre d'Aide Juridique et Judiciaire aux Enfants et Mères « CAJEM »

4. Réseau Genre et Droits de la Femme « GEDROFE »

5. Réseau Femme et Développement de Kinshasa « REFED »

6. Coalition des Femmes pour la Paix et le Développement  « CFPD »

7. Femmes des Médias pour la Justice au Congo « FMJC »

8. Union Nationale des Femmes « UNAF ».

9. Organisation pour l'intérêt de la population « OPIP »

10. « CAMPAGNE NOUS POUVONS »

11. « HOPITAL GENERAL DE REFERENCE DE KINTAMBO.

12. « PATHFINDER INTERNATIONAL »

13. « ASSOCIATION DES FEMMES MUSULMANES ».

14. Aide médicale ici et maintenant « MAGNA »

15. Femmes Chrétiennes pour le Développement et la Démocratie « FCDD »

16. Ligue de la Zone Afrique pour la défense des Droits des Enfants et des élèves « LIZADEEL »

17. Association pour le Bien-être Familial-Naissance Désirables  « ABEF-ND ».

18. Centre pour l'Encadrement et Promotion des Initiatives Communautaires « CEJEPIC »

19. Club pour La Petite Fille « CLAPEF »

20. Eveil des Femmes Educatrices pour le Développement « EFED ».

21. Groupe d'Etudes Environnementales du Congo « GEEC »

22. Conseil de Recherche Appliquée en Management « CRAM »

23. Ministère International des Organismes Divers « MIOD »

24. « LISALISI »

25. Coalition des Femmes pour la Paix et le Développement « CFPD »

     NGOs of North Kivu province, meeting in Goma on January 24, 2017:

26. Division Genre Famille et Enfant « DIVIGEFAE »

27. Action pour l'auto-Promotion  paysanne des Villageois « APROVI »

28. Association pour la Promotion de la Famille « APROFA »

29. Association de la Promotion et d'assistance pour l'amélioration du niveau de Vie des Populations « APANIVIP »

30. Oxford Against Famine « OXFAM NOYIB »

31. « MERCY CORPS »

32. Entraide Protestante Suisse « EPER SUISSE »

33. Action Chrétienne pour le Développement et Encadrement des Orphelins « ACDEO »

34. Programme National de Santé de la Reproduction / Nord Kivu « PNSM/NK »

35. Solidarité pour la Promotion Sociale et la Paix « SOPROP »

36. Programme de Promotion des Soins de Santé Primaire « PPSSP »

37. « CHILDREN'S VOICE »

38. Fond Mondial pour la Nature « WWF/KACHESHE »

39. « HEAL AFRICA »

40. Femmes Unies pour le Progrès Social « FUPROS / WALIKALE »

41. « SOCIETE CIVILE NORD-KIVU »

42. Ligue des Organisations des Femmes Paysannes du Congo « LOFEPACO »

43. « FONDS SOCIAL DE LA RDC »

44. Institut National des Statistiques « INS / NORD KIVU »

45. « CONGO NOUVEAU »

46. « TETRA TECH – CBRNT »

47. « ALARM »

48. Collectif pour l'Encadrement des Personnes de Troisième Age « CAEPA »

49. Femmes Unies pour la Promotion des Droits et du Développement Intégral « FUPRODI »

50. Ligue pour la Solidarité Congolaise « LSC »

51. Collectif des Associations Féminines pour le Développement « CAFED/NORD KIVU »

52. Plaideur des Enfants et des Personnes Agées à risque « PEPA »

53. « DIVISION DUPLAN »

54. Programme National de Stabilisation et Reconstruction « STAREC »

55. Division des Affaires Provinciales du Nord Kivu « DIVAS/ NORD KIVU »

56. « ETN »

57. « GEFAE-MOSS »

58. Centre Médical Groupe d'Entraide et Solidarité Médicale « CM GESON »

59. « FEMMES JURISTES »

60. Actions Concrètes pour la Protection de l'Enfant « ACOPE BENI »

61. Dynamique des Femmes pour la bonne Gouvernance « DYFEGOU /TERRITOIRE DE LUBERO »

62. Femme Engagées pour la Promotion de la Santé Intégrale « FEPSI »

63. Association des Femmes Magistrates « AFEMAG »

64. NGOs of the province of South Kivu, meeting in Bukavu on January 31, 2017:

Programme National de Santé de la Reproduction / Division Provinciale « PNSR/DPS »

65. Division des Affaires Provinciales « DIVAS/SUD KIVU »

66. Division de la Justice « DIVIJUSTICE »

67. « FONDATION PELAGIE »

68. Conseil des Femmes agissant en Synergie « COFAS »

69. « HEALTH FOCUS »

70. Centre d'Ecoute et d'Accompagnement des survivants des VSBG « CEA ASBL »

71. Women for Women International " WFWI"

72. Synergie des Femmes pour la Paix dans la Région des grands lacs « SPR »

73. Cadre Permanent de concertation des Femmes Congolaises « CAFCO »

74. « ECOS »

75. Fonds Social de RDC « FSRDC »

76. Synergie des Femmes pour la Paix dans la région des grands lacs « SPR »

77. Association des Femmes Juristes du Congo « AFEJUCO/SK »

78. « CENTRE OLAME »

79. Escadron de la Protection l'Enfants et de la Prévention des Violences Sexuelles « EPEVS BUKAVU »

80. Division Genre Sud Kivu « DIVIGENRE/SK »

81. Réseau Inter-Organisationnel de l'Eglise du Christ au Congo « RIO/ECC »

82. Observatoire de la Parité « OP »

83. International Rescue Comitee « IRC »

84. Association des Femmes des Médias « AFEM »

85. Action pour le Développement Intégral de la Jeune Fille « ADIJF »

86. « FONDATION PANZI »

87. Réseau des Femmes pour le Droit et la paix « RFDP »

88. Institut Supérieur de Développement Rural « ISDR-BKV »

89. Société Civile du Sud Kivu « SOCIETE CIVILE/SK »

NGOs of the province of Kasai Oriental, meeting in Mbuji Mayi on January 18, 2017:

90. C.S./GEFAE/BIP

91. C.S./DIULU/GEFA

92. Conseil des Agriculteurs, des Pêcheurs et des Eleveurs « CAPE »

93. Union des Droits de l'Homme « SNIR/DERU »

94. Action Contre l'Impunité pour les Droits Humains « ACIDH »

95. Coordination des Organisations des Refoulés et Vulnérables « CORV »

96. SYNERGIE DE LUTTE CONTRE LES VIOLENCES SEXUELLES AU KASAÏ ORIENTAL

97. C.B/DIVI GEFAE

98. C.S/GEFAE/KANSHI

99. Programme National de Santé de la Reproduction « PNSR/CIVVS »

100. COMMISSION MEDICO-SANITAIRE SYNERGIE

101. C.S/GEFAE/MUYA

102. Fondation Jean-Pierre Live Bena Muku « FJLB »

103. Union des Femmes pour les droits de l'Homme « UFDH »

104. Confédération Congolaise pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme « CODIF »

105. Réseau International des ectivistes des Droits de l'Homme « RIADH »

106. Enfants, Jeunes et Traumatisme « EJT-CHADELI »

107. « Hôpital Général de Référence de la MUYA »

108. Congo Justice RDC « CONGO.JU/RDC »

109. « CS Urbain GEFAE »

110. UNION DES CONSOMMATEURS

111. Division Provinciale des Affaires Sociales

112. Conseil Provincial de la Jeunesse « CPJ »

113. Association des Barreaux Américains « ABA/ROLI »

114. « FEMMES PLUS »

115. « CS/GEFAE/DIBINDI »

      NGOs of the province of Ituri, meeting in Bunia on January 28, 2017:

 116. « JUSTICE PLUS »

117. Association de protection de l'enfant du Congo « APEC »

118. Police Nationale Congolaise / Protection de l'Enfant et Violences sexuelles « PNC/PSPEF »

119. Division Provinciale de Santé « DPS »

120. Association des Mamans Anti-Buaki « AMAB »

121. Solidarité Féminine pour la Paix et le Développement Intégral « SOFEPADI »

122. Tribunal pour Enfants  «TPI »

123. Action Justice Paix « AJP »

124. Association Nationale des Mamans pour l'aide aux Déshérités « ANAMAD »

125. Femme Congolaise pour le Développement « FECONDE »

126. « CENTRE PELICAN »

127. Réseaux Provinciaux Femmes et Développement « REFED »

128. Le Bon Samaritain « L.B.S. »

129. Association des Ituriens pour le Développement « ASOCITURI »

130. Programme d'Actions pour le Développement Intégral « PADI »

131. Programme de Promotion de Soins de Santé Primaire « PSPEF »

132. « FEDERATION DES FEMMES »

133. Fédération des Femmes Protestantes de l'Ituri « FFPI »

134. Association des Jeunes pour le Développement Communautaire « AJEDEC »

135. Genre Famille Enfant Ituri « GEFAE/ITURI ».

Annexes:

- tracking the perpetrators of violence

- the socio-economic reintegration of survivors of sexual violence

- a toll-free number to assist the victims

Tracking the perpetrators of violence

Flagrant cases of sexual violence were prioritised as emblematic cases mobilising the attention of the judicial authorities. Other the hand, this served as a teaching example aimed to restore confidence in the justice system. Public hearings were launched in remote and difficult- access locations with the funding of some local NGOs, in collaboration with the Office of the representative and the United-Nations.

Regarding the management of urgent cases, several rapes, often mass ones, committed mainly in North and South Kivu territories are considered as priority cases. These include namely mass rapes perpetrated in the Walikale territory, an area located 200 km from Goma (Nord-Kivu), where, in 2010, cases of rapes were reported affecting about 300 women and children. There is also the case of massive rapes of babies in Kavumu territory: in 2013 in Kavumu (in South Kivu). No one could understand the horror and the interest of such actions.

Concerning the rape of very young children at Kavumu, the then Court President, Mrs.... noted that in 2013, several court cases had been opened and had resulted in the conviction of Mr. Byamungu Ntazo to a 10 years' prison sentence, plus $1,000 fine on 16 October 2013, to the conviction of Mr. Rukara Batiaka, the same prison sentence and fine on 26 May 2014 and to that of Mr. Zaïrois Sumahili, to a 10-year prison sentence and $1,000 fine.

In June 2016, this case reached a turning point. The Congolese justice, using the provisions of the Treaty of Rome, arrested a provincial Member of Parliament, Mr. BATUMIKE, head of the mystical-religious sect, and 74 people belonging to his sect, 42 of whom were set free after investigations by the military prosecutor's Office. Mr. BATUMIKE is considered as the main instigator of rapes at Kavumu.

These advances on the Kavumu case were particularly welcomed by partners of the DRC in this struggle which Baroness Joyce Anelay, British Minister of State in charge of sexual violence issues. However, some media too often mistake the media and judicial time: they raise early the end of the procedures for concerns related to the conduct of proceedings and compensation for the victims. Such concerns, if justifiable, can succeed only after conviction.

As regards the Walikale massive rape, with the return to peace, the military justice system has made progress by arresting one of the sponsors of these despicable crimes, Mr. Lionso Seraphim.

The public hearings were held in several territories, mainly in the East of the DRC, with the joint support of the United Nations, NGOs on ground and the Office of the personal representative. With respect to these public hearings, supported by the Office of the personal representative, there are in 2016, a dozen priority hearings with 70 court decisions were recorded.

From 2014 to 2015, the Congolese military justice ruled nearly 250 decisions on the prevention of sexual violence. Comparatively, the ICC has pronounced on the DRC 7 convictions, only 1 of which on rape and the Arusha ICC pronounced in 10 years, less than 90.

This is the result of several factors. This includes the increase of the numbers of requests for judicial support to victims of sexual violence (75%), improving the collection of evidence, the protection of victims and improving the quality and quantity of judicial decisions. It should be noted the decisions reached by the military justice system are severe and exemplary.

As such, in November 2014, the military justice sentenced general Jérôme Kakwavu, former Chief of the Armed Forces of the Congolese people (FAPC), made an officer of the Congolese army through the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, to 10 years imprisonment. Indeed, between 2003 and 2004, the general Jérôme Kakwavu was guilty of serious violations, including the repeated rapes on two underage girls, two murders and other acts of torture on two other persons. He had also failed to take "necessary measures" to prevent and put an end to war crimes perpetrated by armed men under his command.

Réinsertion socio-économique des survivants des violences sexuelles

Numerous public and private organisations in DRC provide strategic and holistic support to victims of sexual violence and other vulnerable. Moving from the 'victim' to 'Survivor' status: such is the request abused women to the Office of the personal representative. And in response to this, rather than 'punishing', the Office of the personal representative and partner NGOs have applied measures of socio-economic reintegration of children moved out of the armed forces and groups and survivors of sexual violence. This includes of: the mobilisation and the catalysation of various funding initiatives form private or public donors, i.e. more than 240,000 dollars from the Foundation "Nos vies en partage" created by a local mining company for actions of socio-economic reintegration of demobilized youth, women and other vulnerable communities in Aru, Bunia, Goma, Rutshuru and Dungu.

At Kibumba, NYIRAGONGO in North KIVU territory, a sum of $ 25,000 was mobilised in favour of 78 children removed from the armed forces and groups and survivors of sexual violence for training by the National Institute of Vocational Training, INPP in acronym, in various channels with reintegration kits. In Aru and Bunia, 600 survivors of sexual abuse and other vulnerable persons benefited from technical training amounting to about $ 90,000.

At Rutshuru, in North Kivu, an amount of $ 150,000 was mobilised in favour of 672 children removed from the armed forces and groups, survivors of sexual abuse and other vulnerable to benefit from vocational training with economic start-up kits. 38 young people out of the FARDC, based in Kamina and Lubumbashi, were reunited with their families in the former province of Kasai-Occidental. The displacement of these young people as well as their reunification cost amounted to about $ 20,000.

Since coordination also means "re-orienting" or optimising initiatives, the "Vivre & Travailler Autrement," abbreviated "VTA", which received support through the Office of the personal representative by a donor, took this little girl here in Kinshasa after that she had suffered nearly 4 approximate surgeries at the Heal Africa hospital.  She was saved thanks to high quality medical support, which cost nearly $ 20,000 to repair the damage occurred on the girl by Heal Africa. NGOs also admit that awareness sessions on sexual violence and with 1,300 young leaders of various social movements in popular neighbourhoods, media professionals and students in communication enabled communities to access information on the issue of sexual violence, to change their behaviour and to denounce cases of violence for a total cost of $ 7,800.

The NGOs ACOPE, FEPSI, and FJDF, which monitor public hearings on the ground on behalf of the Office of the personal representative, have rallied this year for 10 urgent public hearings organised especially in Beni, Butembo, Goma, Oicha, Lubero, Bukavu, Mbuyi-Mayi, Kalemie and Kamina. Similarly, the scheduled rehabilitation of 2 public referral hospitals, including that of Kintambo, second largest hospital in Kinshasa (ongoing cost of 83,000 dollars, supported by the Embassy Japan) and Kansele, in Mbuji-Mayi. Was also selected the improvement of the circuit of reference and holistic support of sexual violence from denunciation to judicial legal support through the NGO CAJEM clinics; currently 182 people have been supported and 70 convictions pronounced.

A toll-free number for assistance

"Miss Nathalie", counselled by the NGO CAJEM knew them through the SOS line dedicated to the denunciation of cases of sexual violence. This emergency call line, set up by the Office of the personal representative, allows victims of sexual violence and any other person in the DRC to receive guidance for medical or legal assistance.

In Kinshasa or in the provinces, by dialling the numbers 0897000222 or the 473333, a team of operators speaking 4 languages and the French, to interact with approximately 20 million subscribers registered in the overall telephone networks in the DRC, relay calls to appropriate medical and legal services. The call centre is open from Monday to Saturday from 08:00 ' to 18:00 '.

In 2015, faced with the information deficit by communities, prevention has been strengthened through the launch of the campaign called "Break the silence" to encourage the reporting of cases of sexual violence. In March 2015, the first round targeted the city of Kinshasa with posters of the campaign on major highways and public places. From September to December 2015, the campaign spread to the cities of Goma and Bukavu as well as on social networks, with the awareness on the ground and the distribution of media communication back-ups (t-shirt, posters, flyers, and whistles).

Pour faire face à la perception de passiveté qui qualifiait la RDC de capitale mondiale du viol, à la demande du reste de la majorité de la population, le Bureau du Représentant Personnel et ses partenaires ont engagé un travail de pédagogie inlassable pour expliquer de manière méthodique à l'opinion, les efforts menés par la RDC pour éradiquer ces 2 fléaux. Cela a nécessité un travail profond et professionnel qui a conduit le Bureau du Représentant Personnel à faire de la communication, du plaidoyer et du lobby étant appuyé par une expertise  internationale  en vue de mobiliser des meneurs d'opinion pour porter et soutenir la cause de la RDC. Il convient de noter que cette stratégie agressive et continue entraine un coût.

To fight the passivity perception characterising the DRC as the world capital of rape, at the request of the rest of the majority of the population, the Office of the Special Representative and its partners have undertaken a relentless teaching work to methodically explain to the opinion, the efforts made by the DRC to eradicate these 2 plights. This requires a deep and professional work leading the Office of the Special representative to carry out communication, advocacy and lobbying with the support of an international expertise aimed at mobilising leaders of opinion to uphold and support the case of the DRC. It should be noted that this aggressive and sustained strategy entails a cost.

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