In April 2010, the UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, described the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as “the rape capital of the world”.
In similar vein, four years later, the United Nations Population Fund recorded nearly 12,000 cases of gender and sexual-based violence in five eastern DRC provinces.
This horrific levels of rape and other forms of sexual violence have been perpetuated against a background of ethnic resentment, conflict and deep gender inequalities.
In order to stop rape, various donors, development agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations fund many projects aimed at providing medical assistance and psychological support to victims of sexual violence.
Among the numerous organizations, we bring you four outstanding Non-Governmental Organizations who work towards healing women and restoring lives.
In 1999, Dr. Denis Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Panzi Hospital serves more than 400,000 constituents in the Ibanda Health Zone. The US based Panzi Foundation makes strategic investments at Panzi Hospital and Panzi Foundation DRC.
One major objective of the organization is to develop and engage in strategic advocacy to end violence against women and girls in the DRC and around the world.
To find out more about Dr. Denis Mukwege and his work, watch The Man Who Mends Women: The Wrath of Hippocrates, an award-winning documentary that was shown at the Africa Diaspora International Film Festival.
BVES, Le Bureau pour le Volontariat au service de l’Enfance et de la Santé
BVES, Le Bureau pour le Volontariat au service de l’Enfance et de la Santé, is a non-profit organization formed in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire) on the 6th of March 1992 by a group of volunteers working for the health, education and protection of children (predominantly doctors, lawyers, sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists).
Headed by Murhabazi Namegabe, BVES has freed 4,000 child soldiers and more than 4,500 girls who have been sexually assaulted by armed groups, and taken care of 4,600 unaccompanied refugee children.
In addition, for more than two decades, Murhabazi Namegabe has been negotiating with armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, securing the release, one-by-one, of child soldiers and children kept as sex slaves.
BVES, Le Bureau pour le Volontariat au service de l’Enfance et de la Santé has worked in collaboration with various international organizations including UNICEF, Amnesty International and other leading Non Governmental Organizations in the field of human rights and children’s issues.
City of Joy
The City of Joy is a transformational leadership community for women survivors of violence, located in Bukavu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Conceived, owned, and run by local Congolese, the City of Joy has flourished since it first opened its doors in June 2011, healing women from their past trauma through therapy and life skills programming while providing them with the essential ingredients needed to move forward in life – love and community.
Serving 90 survivors of gender violence aged 18 to 30 at a time, City of Joy is now in its 6th year of operation and has graduated 759 women leaders in nine classes. The City of Joy is a project of the Fondation Panzi (DRC) and V-Day. Find out more about City of Joy here.
Women’s Synergy for Victims of Sexual Violence (SFVS)
Synergy for Victims of Sexual Violence (Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes des Violences Sexuelles, SFVS) was created in early 2002 support women and girls in eastern Congo that have been raped and subsequently rejected by their communities.
Based in North Kivu province, the organization provides medical care to victims of sexual violence; offers psychological counselling; raises community awareness of the destructive effects of sexual violence against women; provides legal support; and gives victims opportunities to participate in income-generating activities.
SFVS’s medical attention to victims has helped countless in North Kivu. Since 2002, SFVS has repaired 260 fistulas, nearly 93 percent of which healed after the first operation, provided 2,581 patients with HIV testing, and have treated 7,018 cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Aside from these brave organizations, many more continue to provide medical treatment, counseling and legal advice for survivors. We applaud their bravery and celebrate their courage.