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Democratic Republic of the Congo

55th session of the CEDAW: Report on violence against women in North and South

July 8 – 26, 2013

This report is the result of the joint work of 20 NGOs from South andNorth Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo, who took part in a trainingsession in April 2013, organised by the World Organisation against Torture(OMCT) and Women's Synergy for Victims of Sexual Violence (SFVS).

NGOs from North Kivu : AFEMED/NK, Défenseur judiciaire et associationdynamique des femmes juristes, Association pour la Défense des Droits de laFemme (ADDF), Femmes Engagées pour la Promotion de la Santé Intégrale (FEPSI),Mutaani FM, Marche Mondiale de la femme, Action Aid International, ProgrammePromotion des Soins de Santé Primaires (PPSSP), Marche Mondiale des femmes, Synergie des femmes/Walikale UCF

NGOs from South Kivu : SOS Information Juridique Multisectorielle(SOS IJM), Congo Renaitre, ASBL/REVIVRE, APC, Action des Chrétiens Activistesdes Droits de l’Homme a Shabunda (ACADHOSHA), Syndicat d'Initiatives pour ledéveloppement du territoire de Mwenga (SIDEM), Association des Femmes Juristes Congolaises (AFEJUCO), Coordinatrice ProvincialeRegard Rural Sans Frontière (RRSF),Centre Olame, Arche D’Alliance.

For overtwo decades, serious human rights violations have been perpetrated in theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Congolese army (FARDC), the police(PNC) and the security forces, as well as national and foreign armed groups,are responsible for many abuses against the Congolese civilian population,including killings, looting, torture and acts of sexual violence against women.The problem of sexual violence in DRC has been the subject of particularattention from the international community since the wars that took place between1996 and 2002, when a large number of women and girls were victims of rape perpetratedby the parties to the conflict.

In Northand South Kivu, the civilian population is still facing these atrocities andmany girls and women continue to be victims of sexual violence. Abuses by armedgroups take place within a context of lack of security which has been exacerbatedby desertions from the ranks of the army in April 2012; the creation of the M23armed group and the redeployment of the FARDC.

South andNorth Kivu are regions rich in mineral resources. Armed groups and the FARDCvie for control of mining areas, which has transformed this region into an areaof violent rivalry. Armed groups and the FARDC use sexual violence as “a weaponof war” to control the region and destroy families and communities.

Womensurvivors of sexual violence are often reluctant to report these crimes, out ofboth fear and shame. In most cases, it is the victims who are stigmatized andthe perpetrators are not prosecuted. Indeed, a woman raped in the DRC may beexpelled from her home and community. Added to this risk is the difficulty formany women to access justice and compensation, particularly in some remoteparts of North and South Kivu. The perpetrators of these crimes also takeadvantage of the general climate of impunity to continue to commit theiratrocities. Currently, impunity is a major factor in the perpetuation of thesecrimes.

Violenceagainst women, including sexual violence, is not only perpetrated by armedgroups and rebel groups, but also by civilians. Although sexual violenceperpetrated by civilians is inherent to armed conflict, it should in additionbe understood as part of a continuum ofviolence against women and girls in peacetime, during conflict and inpost-conflict situations. This violence is part of a wider context ofdiscrimination and inequality, which victimizes women. During armed conflict,gender inequalities and methods of discrimination are further exacerbated. Inthe DRC, women remain under-represented and are often excluded from many areasof society (political, economic, social and cultural) and from decision-makingbodies.

The aim ofthis report is to present the main causes of violence against women in the DRC,particularly in North and South Kivu. Firstly, the report examines the statusof women in national legislation as well as their under-representation incertain sectors of society (Chapter 1). Subsequently, the report analyzes thedifferent forms of violence suffered by women at the family, community andstate levels (Chapter 2). Finally, a set of recommendations are made to endviolence against women in North and South Kivu.


- Justine Masika Bihamba, SFVS : / +41 77 961 30 70
- Carin Benninger, violence against women Coordinator : / +41 22 809 49 39

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