Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been struggling with systematic rape and other forms of sexual violence on a massive scale. Estimates vary depending on the source but somewhere between 250,000 and 1 million women have been raped since the beginning of the armed conflicts in the 1990s. Despite this flagrant injustice, only a small number of victims have accessed any form of care, support, or justice, and none have received any form of reparation, such as psychological and medical care, education, housing, or public acknowledgement of the violation of rights they experienced.
In partnership with the Panzi Foundation and the Mouvement National des Survivant.es, which has been providing holistic support to survivors since 1999, Global Survivors Fund (GSF) developed an interim reparative measure project with and for Congolese survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). Survivors identified, and helped design, the following individual and collective interim reparative measures:
- Compensation, together with financial management training, vocational training, and job coaching;
- Medical care;
- Psychological care;
- The creation of four community centres open to all survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
Since the start of the project in 2019, at least 990 survivors accessed mobile clinics, where 42 were then referred to hospital to treat long-standing wounds from sexual violence.
Survivors have also attended more than 5,000 individual psychological counselling sessions and benefited from more than 300 training sessions on topics such as business skills and savings management to optimise their use of compensation and maximise the transformative and sustainable impact of the interim reparative measures.
The planned community centres will serve as a safe haven for survivors and a space for them to share and organise events and activities together.
The impact evaluation for the project, which was conducted by the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement in 2022, found that 98 per cent of survivors felt participating in the project changed their lives in some way. Moreover, the percentage of survivors feeling gossiped about or excluded from their communities on a weekly basis decreased by 64 percentage points throughout the project.
GSF intervention in the DRC also includes important advocacy and technical support components, encouraging national authorities to develop a survivor-centred reparation policy and fund. We have supported the ad hoc Commission responsible for putting in place a framework law on reparations by contributing, among other things, the expertise acquired in the implementation of interim reparative measures projects on issues such as identification of survivors, co-creation, safe spaces, and legal registration.
Since 2023, GSF has also been involved in strengthening the technical and advocacy capacities of survivor and civil society organisations to ensure their active and full participation in the reparation process.