Congo: Government response on domestic violence under the spotlight
By Flavia Fascendini for APCNews
07 December 2012
A 14 year old girl living with her sister was harassed by her brother-in-law, even in front of her sister. The latter thought it was just jokes, so she encouraged her partner to do so. Two years ago, in Brazzaville, the girl was dragged by her brother-in-law into a hotel so he could rape her. She talked to her sister but she did not believe her, she also beat her and kicked her out of the house. Orphan of father and mother, she took refuge with her uncle. She has participated in sensitization sessions on sexual and domestic violence in Kinkala organized by AZUR Development and AJLCPS. Now she has one concern only: to be heard.
Under the title Une jeune femme harcelée par son beau-frère (A young woman harassed by her brother-in-law), this girl had the chance – as many others will have – to make her story visible and to join forces to hold their governments accountable in the combat of such violations. On November 30, the Association for Progressive Communications, in partnership with APC member AZUR Developpement launched an online mapping platform that helps to document, report and monitor the national response to domestic violence cases in the Republic of Congo (Congo).
In an event with more than 40 attendees from media, civil society organisations, health institutions and government representatives, Sylvie Niombo, executive director of AZUR Développement introduced the Ushahidi platform that will monitor domestic violence cases in Congo under the project Africatti – Holding governments accountable to combat gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.
DRC and Congo have two of the most serious incidents of gender based violence and human rights violations in the world, after emerging from many years of armed conflict which have perpetuated rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Even though the DRC and Congo governments have both made various commitments to eliminate gender based violence, many cases of sexual violence continue to be reported particularly in post-conflict areas. In addition, domestic violence, sexual harassment and incest are common.
The weak reporting, monitoring, and tracking of the real degree and impact of the violations, also prejudices the coordination of responses to these gender-based violence cases from governments.
To achieve the goal of building evidence that can put pressure on governments to increase their commitments to combat gender based violence, the project will perform capacity building of local women’s and human rights organisations, using the Ushahidi platform and other ICT tools.
The mapping platform offers different categories that people submitting the report have to complete in order to have the case featured on the map: age (0-5, 6-10, 11-16, 16-24, 25-30, 31 and other), response service (listening and support centres, community services, police stations, courts, legal clinics, human rights organizations, gendarmerie), and type of domestic violence (child abuse, widowhood rites, physical abuse, moral violence, marital rape, rape of minors, incest, sexual touching of minors, incitement to debauchery, murder).
In Congo, the platform data collection is driven by four civil society organisations: Agence Régionale d’information et de prévention du SIDA (ARIPS), Réseau des Associations de Solidarités Positives (RASP), Espace Parole et Vhie (EPV), and the Association des Femmes pour le développement de la Bouenza (AFDB).
Cases of domestic and sexual violence such as the one of the young girl in Kinkala will be registered on the Africatti online mapping platform, where the report of a gender based violation will constitute the evidence that will help the survivors and others to demand from local government authorities a better coordination of responses to their situation.
The Africatti – Holding governments accountable to combat gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo project is financially supported by the African Technology and Transparency Initiative, a joint initiative of Omidyar Network and Hivos.