Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Fact Sheet

OVERVIEW

Since 2002, the United States Government has been a major donor in the response to and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Deep-seated gender discrimination, harmful cultural practices, and the low social status of women and girls in the DRC contribute to high rates of SGBV. Furthermore, continued population displacement, insecurity, and conflict in eastern DRC perpetuate the cycle of violence against women and girls, although most perpetrators are community members not associated with armed groups.

Despite a 2006 Congolese law prohibiting SGBV, many cases of sexual violence are neither reported to local authorities nor investigated. Factors contributing to this lack of prosecution include fear of stigma and abandonment, weak law enforcement, and poor judicial infrastructure. In 2013, USAID helped to fund the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), which surveyed 18,000 households nationwide and found that more than 57 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

PROGRAM         

USAID’s 2015-2019 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) integrates activities to counter SGBV into health and education programs, with a focus on challenging gender inequality nationwide and expanding access to services. Under this strategy, USAID provides emergency and long-term assistance to SGBV survivors and strengthens Congolese institutions to address SGBV in the future.

USAID has provided a holistic set of essential services to more than 100,000 SGBV survivors, including access to medical care, psychosocial support, economic reintegration, vocational and literacy training, income generating activities, fighting impunity for perpetrators through support for legal reform, and strengthening of civilian and military judicial systems. Community awareness activities and information campaigns use various communication approaches to promote women’s rights, acceptance of rape survivors, and equity for women.

Since 2001, USAID has incorporated treatment for SGBV survivors into its humanitarian emergency health programs. USAID provides services in 141 health centers within conflict-affected health zones of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri. These programs deliver clinical management and treatment of SGBV cases, training for health staff on medical management of SGBV, and provision of psychosocial care to survivors in conflict-affected zones of North Kivu and Orientale provinces. USAID provides first line treatment at local clinics and referrals to larger hospitals, when necessary, for complications such as fistula. 

The Department of State has taken an active role in addressing SGBV in the DRC through a variety of programs funded by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), the Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Bureau of African Affairs (AF), the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (S/GAC), and the Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI). Additionally, Embassy Kinshasa’s Democracy and Human Rights Fund gives small grants on an annual basis to local organizations that provide economic and legal support to SGBV survivors. The Embassy’s Public Affairs Section also sponsors SGBV-focused activities.

SELECT 2017 ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • USAID provided 7,755 survivors of SGBV with medical, legal, and economic reintegration services.
  • USAID strengthened 1,550 organizations to respond to and prevent SGBV in their communities.  
  • USAID established School-Related GBV monitoring committees in 618 schools and worked with the Ministry of Education to field test and validate the Doorways curriculum aimed at building skills to effectively counter SRGBV.

USAID ACTIVITIES

USAID-IMA World Health Counter Gender-Based Violence Program -- IMA World Health

Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead through Education (EAGLE) -- FHI 360

Access, Reading, Accountability, and Retention (ACCELERE!) -- Chemonics

Fistula Care Plus -- Engenderhealth

Integrated Health Project + (IHP/PROSANI) -- Management Sciences for Health (MSH)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE ACTIVITIES

Supporting Medical, Legal and Law Enforcement Professionals in Central and East Africa -- Physicians for Human Rights

Combating Sexual Violence in North Kivu and Kasai Oriental -- American Bar Association (ABA)                                                                                                                                 

Police Professionalization Project -- International Organization for Migration

Accountability Initiative -- ABA

Last updated: August 13, 2018

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