Meeting violence with Peace

The horror of sexual violence continues to ruin the lives of countless women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In some areas in the eastern South Kivu province up to 70% of women have been raped at least once. 

Over the last 20 years, wars and relentless fighting between rebel groups seeking to control the region’s vast mineral wealth have left the population deeply traumatised.

Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war.  Women who’ve been subjected to dreadful physical attacks are often thrown out by their husbands, families and villages because of the stigma associated with being raped.

SCIAF has been working with Church partners including CODILUSI and Justice and Peace to help women, and children born of rape, for many years.  With money donated in Scotland we trained 22 doctors in fistula surgery, gave medical equipment to hospitals and health centres and helped over 12,000 women get the treatment they need. 

We’ve helped many more women with trauma counselling, given comfort and support through setting up women’s self-help groups, and provided training and small loans so they can support themselves and their children. 

Working with an organisation of lawyers, AJV, we’re also giving free legal aid to thousands of women so they can take their attackers to court and get justice, and helping children born of rape to get birth certificates, despite not knowing the name of their biological father. 

Juvenal Bizimana is a lawyer working with SCIAF.  He told us:

“With these birth certificates the children can now travel, they can cross the borders of the Congo and they can register for school without any problem.  It can also serve as a provisional identity for them until they become mature enough to get proper identity cards.”