LEARNING ON GENDER & CONFLICT IN AFRICA

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LEARNING INITIATIVES IN GENDER & CONFLICT

Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Eastern DRC

Project Name Project to Prevent and Mitigate the Impact of Gender-Based Violence in South Kivu
Location South Kivu, DRC
Primary Beneficiaries Women and girl survivors of SGBV
Duration September 2010 – September 2012
Implementation Partner International Rescue Committee

Overview: LOGiCA provides technical assistance to the project to prevent and mitigate gender-based Violence in South Kivu, funded by the World Bank’s state and Peace-building fund. The overall objective of the project is to improve the provision of services that promote treatment and prevention of gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls in South Kivu. The project aims to contribute to the higher order objective of mitigating the short-term and medium-term impact of GBV at the individual, family and community level and reduce the vulnerability of women and girls in South Kivu.

Rationale: There is a daily threat of violence against women in South Kivu as they seek to either escape immediate violence or re-establish their lives in areas of greater stability. A culture of impunity where rape and assault go unpunished combined with the already low status of women and the absence of a functioning judicial system have created conditions where violence against women and girls continues with alarming frequency. Furthermore, the combined challenges of limited access to services and the fear of stigmatization and rejection increase the already vulnerable position of the survivor, affecting women’s short- and long-term productivity, as well as their capacity to care for themselves and their children.

Project Details: This two-year project, implemented by the NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC), adopts a multi-faceted approach addressing individual survivors in both the short and long term within a framework of building local capacity and partnership as well as working through community structures to encourage greater cohesion and protection of women. Project components include:

  • Component 1: Provision of essential services to survivors of sexual violence including case management, psychosocial, health and legal services.
  • Component 2: Provision of community support to women and girls affected by conflict.
  • Component 3: Coordination between actors in responding to sexual violence and advocacy for policies that promote the protection of women and girls.
  • Component 4: Project management. 

The project works with 7,000 women and girls, including survivors of sexual violence and women and girls who are deemed vulnerable, including widows, female-heads of households, and teenage mothers. Direct services to survivors of GBV are being provided to 4,800 project beneficiaries. In addition, CBOs are providing direct support to 2,200 beneficiaries.

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Project Name Impact Evaluation of: Project to Prevent and Mitigate the Impact of Gender-Based Violence in South Kivu
Location South Kivu, DRC
Primary Beneficiaries Women and girl survivors of SGBV
Duration September 2010 – December 2012
Implementation Partner Johns Hopkins University

Project Overview: LOGiCA, in partnership with USAID and the World Bank's State and Peace-building Fund, is supporting an impact evaluation of 'Project to Prevent and Mitigate the Impact of GBV in South Kivu'. The overall objective of the evaluation is to identify effective and scalable interventions for the response to sexual violence in areas affected by armed conflict by evaluating innovative approaches to socio-economic programs. The impact evaluation in South Kivu, DRC is evaluating the impact of both a savings and loans association and a mental health intervention on improving the mental, social, physical and economic functioning of survivors of sexual violence.

Rationale:  The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is introducing two new and innovative programs for survivors of sexual violence in South Kivu who have high symptoms of distress and who are having difficulty with daily functioning: Village savings and loan associations (VSLA) and a mental health intervention. It is hypothesized that participation in both a VSLA group and in the mental health intervention will lead to an increase in psychological, social, physical and economic functioning.

Evaluation Questions:

  1. What is the impact of a mental health intervention on social, psychological, physical and economic functioning?
  2. What is the impact of a socio-economic intervention on social, psychological, physical and economic functioning?
  3. What is the combined impact of a mental health intervention followed by a socio-economic program on social, psychological, physical and economic functioning?

Project Details:  The study consists of two parallel-randomized impact evaluations to investigate the impacts of the different intervention strategies. The first study focuses on the impact of the VSLA compared to a wait-control sample. The VSLA impact evaluation study is conducted in communities served by IRC’s nine CBO partners. The second study focuses on the impact of the mental health intervention followed by the VSLA program compared to a wait-control sample. This study is conducted in communities served by three of IRC’s NGO partners currently providing psychosocial support. The design of this second study allows an examination of the independent impact of the mental health intervention and the effect of receiving a mental health intervention on the rates of retention in VSLA and the impact of the VSLA program.

 

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KNOWLEDGE GENERATION

Men's Behaviors towards survivors of sexual violence

Overview: This learning initiative is identifying which factors – societal, financial and health-related – influence men's behaviors towards survivors of sexual violence and to identify the barriers towards acceptance and reintegration of survivors into their families and communities after rape. The findings from this project will inform evidence-based interventions that can prevent rejection of survivors in the future. This investigation is the first to look at how to more effectively prevent and address rejection of survivors from their families and communities

Rationale:  In the past decade, there has been increasing recognition of the critical role that men and boys play in preventing, mitigating, and changing attitudes towards sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), particularly as it relates to women. Recent publications from the World Health Organization and the UN have demonstrated that engaging men and boys is an effective venue for promoting gender equality and that the positive involvement of men and boys in women’s empowerment is a cause from which the whole population will benefit. Better understanding how to engage men and boys in issues around responding to sexual violence and preventing the stigma associated with it is crucial for improving outcomes for survivors.

Women in DRC state that the stigma they face as survivors of sexual violence can be as traumatic as the attack itself. The reactions of a survivor’s family and community are therefore highly correlated with her ability to recover. Previous research has indicated that men’s reactions to rape were often pivotal in determining whether they would be accepted into their extended families and communities after rape.

The scope of the problem is striking. In a 2007 survey undertaken by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), 29% of sexual violence survivors reported being forced to leave their homes and families as a result of having been raped and 6.2% reported rejection from their communities. This is consistent with a figure reported by the Réseau des Femmes pour un Développement Associatif (RFDA), which put the percent of married women who were abandoned by their husbands as a result of being raped at 26% (RFDA, 2005). However, these figures show that only some men choose to reject survivors, while others support them. Understanding the rationale behind this decision will be invaluable in creating better programming around this issue.

HHI has been working closely with local partners in the region since 2006 and has deep experience conducting research in this region. With its wide network of community-based organizations, HHI is uniquely placed to study this complex phenomenon and to survey men in multiple field sites throughout eastern DRC.

Project Details:  HHI will undertake a one-year investigation of the risk factors for rejection in North and South Kivu by surveying survivors and their male family members in five project sites in eastern DRC. While this approach has certain limitations compared with a random population-based sample, it also ensures that women and families affected by sexual violence will already have access to mediation and counseling services. Quantitative data will be supported by in-depth interviews with men as well as male community leaders to better understand the dynamics around rejection and how to address it. HHI will work in collaboration with a locally-based psycho-social NGO, the Centre d’Assistance Médico-Psychosociale (CAMPS). CAMPS has been conducting intake and care of sexual violence survivors since 2004 and has offices throughout eastern DRC. It conducts projects funded by UNFPA, UNHCR, and PYM-Norvege.

 

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Understanding underlying causes of SGBV in Eastern DRC

Objective: The study's key objectives are to: (i) determine individual motivation of combatants to perpetrate SGBV; (ii) determine strategic variables, motivating armed groups to perpetrate SGBV; and (iii) develop a model on the use of SGBV by armed group.

Rationale: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the greater Great Lakes Region of Central Africa suffers continued and widespread violence inflicted by a multitude of armed groups (AG) rendering some areas inaccessible and forcibly displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The presence and movements of AG often inflict serious suffering as human rights offenses and criminal acts are frequently committed by AG members, acting as groups or as individuals. The crimes committed by AG range from simple theft and robbery to armed robbery, abduction, rape, slavery, murder and mass murder or massacres, torture, cannibalism and forced cannibalism.

Civilians in the Eastern parts of DRC are directly targeted by AG; they are attacked, abducted, forcefully drafted, pressed into forced labor and sexually abused. In recent years, many reports of women, girls, men and boys who have been raped have surfaced and SGBV has gained attention by the mass media, INGOs, Human Right’s Groups and scholars.

The United Nations consider widespread rape as a ‘weapon of warfare’ and describe it as a ‘tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group’. However, evidence for this remains limited; concrete knowledge as to what these strategies or purposes of AG in the DRC are lacking.  Reasons for the extreme levels of brutality of SGBV are not fully understood and remain severely under-researched. 

Details of Project: Implemented by the organization vivo, and building on previous related experience, the methodology will employ a structured interview protocol to conduct individual interviews with active or currently demobilized combatants allowing for quantitative analysis and providing qualitative information. The sample will include (former) members of different AG, and will be extended to (former) members of regular forces and civilians, if possible. The study participants will be recruited through snow-ball sampling, supported by DDR experts on the ground. The individual data derived from the study will be kept strictly confidential (according to the protocol of the University of Konstanz Ethnic Review Board) and will be analyzed using standard scientific methods.
The research will address the following key questions:

  • Why is the violence directed against women and girls so brutal?
  • What motivates combatants to perpetrate the most brutal forms of gender-based violence? (Depending on opportunity, also: What motivates commanders to order or tolerate it? Depending on case, is it more tolerating or more ordered?)
  • Is gender-based violence employed strategically by any of the investigated armed groups? (Role of hierarchy, incentives, punishment, direct orders, etc.)
  • If so, what are the strategic goals? What are the tactical goals
  • How do individual motivational and strategic factors interact to perpetrate gender-based violence?
  • Do the mechanisms and motivations vary over armed-groups and over time (is there a dynamic, a pattern, etc.)?

 

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