Sexual violence in the protracted conflict of DRC programming for rape survivors in South Kivu.

Steiner, B; Benner, MT; Sondorp, E; Schmitz, KP; Mesmer, U; Rosenberger, S; (2009) Sexual violence in the protracted conflict of DRC programming for rape survivors in South Kivu. Confl Health, 3. p. 3. ISSN 1752-1505 DOI:

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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Despite international acknowledgement of the linkages between sexual violence and conflict, reliable data on its prevalence, the circumstances, characteristics of perpetrators, and physical or mental health impacts is rare. Among the conflicts that have been associated with widespread sexual violence has been the one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). METHODS: From 2003 till to date Malteser International has run a medico-social support programme for rape survivors in South Kivu province, DRC. In the context of this programme, a host of data was collected. We present these data and discuss the findings within the frame of available literature. RESULTS: Malteser International registered 20,517 female rape survivors in the three year period 2005-2007. Women of all ages have been targeted by sexual violence and only few of those - and many of them only after several years - sought medical care and psychological help. Sexual violence in the DRC frequently led to social, especially familial, exclusion. Members of military and paramilitary groups were identified as the main perpetrators of sexual violence. CONCLUSION: We have documented that in the DRC conflict sexual violence has been - and continues to be - highly prevalent in a wide area in the East of the country. Humanitarian programming in this field is challenging due to the multiple needs of rape survivors. The easily accessible, integrated medical and psycho-social care that the programme offered apparently responded to the needs of many rape survivors in this area.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Global Health and Development
Research Centre: Centre for Global Mental Health
Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre
PubMed ID: 19284879


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