in northern Kivu, somehow rebuilding women who are victims of sexual violence

The local NGO PGDD, funded by membership fees and donations, has been in Oicha since 2011. Its volunteers receive women who have been sexually abused, refer them to medical services and, if possible, to the police to lodge complaints.
NGO PGDD has been present for several years in Oicha: she listens, raises awareness and offers social and financial support to women who are victims of sexual violence. Photos sent by John Etumba.

The NGO is currently following four complaints under investigation. Support is also provided to help these women regain confidence and gain financial stability. Devotte Kahambu Muhyana, social animator at the NGO, explains:

We help victims of sexual violence to “traumatize” with song. I have led these workshops with PGDD coordinators for two years. There are almost all ages, from 17 to 45 years old. After the song comes the happy, smiling. I have also had trauma and helping them also helps me. It makes me better.

We also train these women in agriculture, braiding hair, making baskets. It helps them in life. Some will then braid their hair in quarters to get some money. Even with these professions, they think of something else. There is a lot of solidarity between them, mutual social support and that is also what we want.

Hair braid workshops organized by NGO PGDD. Credit: PGDD.

According to the NGO’s coordinator in Oicha, Bienvenu Mumbere Malyabo, more than a hundred women are currently following these programs. But he thinks the funds are missing:

Between January and March, we counted 136 rape victims in Oicha. But the figure is certainly much higher. We should be able to move on to the villages to raise awareness and identify people who need to be accompanied, but we cannot afford it. We would also like to take more action to enable women to know their rights better, to discourage friendly arrangements between families in the event of rape and to combat stigma. We are also limited in the medical follow-up of young people. girls. This week we had two cases of very young girls, one of whom was eight years old. When they have to go to the hospital, the question is how to pay and how to buy medicine if needed. We sometimes try to help with what we have, to pay half the bill, but it is not enough.

A school field for NGO PGDD to help women reintegrate. Credit: PGDD.

A letter to the President condemning sexual violence

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the sexual violence survivor movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo recently put the topic of sexual violence in conflict zones in the news. June 19, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Times of Conflict, this movement sent a letter to President Félix Tshisekedi “to condemn, again this year, feminism, rape, horrific, degrading and difficult acts as well as human insecurity and fear that characterize the living climate of the people of Kasaï-Central, Ituri, North and South Kivu, as well as the entire scope of DRCongo”.

On the same day, the movement went online for free his movie “SEMA”, “written and played 90% of survivors of rape and sexual violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo”. This strategy was welcomed by Dr. Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynecologist was rewarded in 2018 for his fight against war decay.

>> Read about observers: In Kivu, dance to help women exposed to sexual violence

The city of Oicha, 30 km north of Beni in the province of North Kivu, is considered the gateway to “triangle of death”, an area that is broken up by conflicts there more than 1,000 people were massacred since 2013. According to Congo Study Group (GEC), based at New York University, no group has claimed responsibility for the murders, but members of the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group “have been important players, sometimes collaborating with Congolese armed groups”.

In February, UNHCR estimated that violence in the Beni region had been forced 100,000 people to escape from their homes within two months. Total more than that five million people are displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which represents the most important internal displacement situation on the African continent.