Holding governments accountable to combat gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo (Congo) have two of the most serious incidents of gender based violence and human rights violations in the world. Both countries are emerging from years of armed conflict which have perpetuated rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war. DRC’s capital city of Kinshasa was dubbed the “capital of rape” by the UN special rapporteur Margot Wallström.

In Congo, a small country with a population of about 3.6 million as opposed to DRC’s 70 million, over 15,000 cases of sexual violence were reported in 2009. In the first six months of 2010, 7,685 cases were reported. More than half of the victims were under 18 years of age. Many cases of sexual violence continue to be reported particularly in post-conflict areas in both countries. In addition, domestic violence, sexual harassment and incest are common.

The DRC and Congo governments have both made various commitments to eliminate gender-based violence including signing on to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women CEDAW and the special Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Both governments have also enacted national laws in the form of family and criminal codes and sexual violence acts which provide protection for women and girls against violence. However, these provisions are often not enforced.

In both countries, APC’s partners have reported that there is growing mobilisation of local women and human rights organisations in coordination with UN and international organisations in the fight to end gender-based violence. However, they identify that reporting and monitoring of violations and tracking and coordination of responses are woefully inadequate in relation to the numbers and seriousness of cases of sexual and domestic violence in both countries.

This project aims to strengthen documentation, reporting and monitoring of domestic and sexual violence (especially rape cases) and responses of law enforcement agencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. It will do so through building the capacity of local women’s and human rights organisations, using the Ushahidi platform and other ICT tools, to produce evidence that can put pressure on governments to deliver on and increase their commitments to combat and eliminate gender-based violence.

APC in partnership with APC member AZUR Developpement led by Sylvie Niombo will implement this project over a two year period.

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