Digital support for victims of sexual and gender-related violence in the DRC.
To strengthen the holistic approach of access to and medical treatment of women and girls who have survived sexual and gender-related violence, through digital tools, in the Eastern DRC.
Project start date : 15/10/2022
Beneficiary country : Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)
About the project
The project aims to ensure remote referral of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), in order to prevent and combat complications such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. In order to improve medical care of surviving women and girls through digital tools, alert, listening and telephone monitoring mechanisms are set up in the community. The tools aimed at preventing and combating SGBV, abuse and sexual exploitation include:
1. a toll-free number with a preventive role, via which victims or people close to them can report and instantly request first aid or support, and start the referral process;
2.a suggestion box, a digital tool which facilitates communication, allowing community opinions to be collected to improve the quality of holistic victim support, to report cases, and to improve fluidity of referral and of support for the medical and psychological health of women and girls who have survived SGBV;
3.community networks, to deploy targeted and approximative awareness in groups or door-to-door, bring victims into contact with medical care services and monitor the progress of their health;
4.social media, to publish, relay and post findings and other project activities in order to reach and document on a larger scale those communities at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
Involving the community and seeking its opinion through these tools has several advantages: knowing their problems and expectations in order to meet their real needs, providing medical or psychological support where necessary, intervening on behalf of survivors and helping them to obtain urgent and free medical service. Therapeutic education is also provided to survivors by mobile phone, via notifications to health councils, in order to avoid mental breakdowns and deteriorations in physical health.
Located in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nord-Kivu Province is experiencing a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the persistence of violence perpetrated by armed groups with the loyalist forces. According to the humanitarian response plan published by OCHA in January 2022, there were 49,661 cases of violations of human rights, including 5,457 cases of women subjected to SGBV. Resources for provision of holistic care remain very weak and insufficient, while armed conflict and violence remains a permanent reality in the East of the country. This violence has led to at least 1,147 civil deaths (including 240 women following poor standards of holistic care and 592 with no care at all). According to the Quarterly Information Bulletin for the Sub-Cluster of Gender-Based Violence (SC-VBG) for the period January-March 2022, 7.3 million women and girls are at risk of suffering gender-based violence. Levels of protection have deteriorated in the East of the country following armed and inter-ethnic conflicts, and a request for humanitarian assistance with care programmes has been launched.
The approach recommended by this project involves providing digital support capable of ensuring referral of victims from the moment of the violence right through to their medical and psychological care. This approach should make it possible to educate female communities to restore enjoyment of their rights, advance gender equality, and help prevent inappropriate behaviour and mental illness. The same approach will promote research to develop a better understanding of the complex dynamics of sexual violence, in order to guide our work to combat misinformation and to protect women and girls in the area of intervention.
Several initiatives relating to protection of women and girls who have survived sexual and gender-based violence have been implemented in the area. However, these initiatives only involved legal and judicial support and economic empowerment for victims. No prevention and protection initiative, including digital tools and aimed at improving medical care for the physical and mental health of victims, exists in the area targeted by this project. The approach is innovative because it allows survivors living in the intervention area to easily reach medical care services, as well as a psychiatrist or psychologist close to their place of residence, via a toll-free number, the suggestion box or flexible community networks. It allows victims to be actively listened to and monitored over the telephone.
5 Full-Time equivalents
2 Service providers
Number of beneficiaries since launch