A model for survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
For decades now, sexual violence has been one of the most harmful consequences of the wars that have shaken the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In this region, sexual violence is used as a weapon of war against the population. Survivors of sexual violence don’t just need medical care; they need psychosocial support, socio-economic reorientation and legal aid as well.
With European Union support, Panzi Hospital and the Panzi Foundation have been providing this kind of comprehensive assistance to survivors of sexual violence since 1999.
Putting victims first
In the face of multiple security crises and a hundred armed groups operating in the east of the country, requests for assistance continue to grow. The European Union supports the Panzi Foundation through a programme of comprehensive support for survivors of sexual violence and their children, with four component parts:
- Medical care
- Psychosocial follow-up
- Legal and judicial assistance
- Socioeconomic and educational reintegration.
The girls and women who turn to the foundation are encouraged to tell their personal story. Then a personalised care programme is devised, implemented, and documented. The aim is for the victims to rejoin their communities as healthy individuals.
So this support model is about more than comprehensive individual care; it also provides a platform for living a healthy life, both on a personal level and as a member of the community. On top of that, if it is meticulously implemented in all health care structures, it will bring the right to health for everyone in the country closer.
- Between 2017 and 2019, the Panzi Hospital treated 1061 patients under this programme, with a cure rate of 80% for urogenital fistula and 98% for genital prolapse.
- The programme also provided accommodation for 289 children under the age of 5, who had come to the hospital with their sick mothers.
- In addition to these surgical procedures, the patients also received counselling and transportation from and to their villages.
In seeking better living conditions for the most vulnerable people in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the support programme helps pursue a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including:
- SDG 5 : gender equality and empowerment of women and girls;
- SDG 3 : good health and well-being for all; and
- SDG 4 : access to quality education on an equal basis and opportunities for lifelong learning.