Behavior Change Communication
With generous support from GlobalGiving and other donors, International Medical Corps is using behavior change communication (BCC) to prevent, and protect against sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. BCC is an interactive approach which utilizes communication strategically to develop and maintain positive attitudes, practices and norms. In DRC, we have identified messaging that is effective in improving behaviors related to sexual violence in the eastern region of the country. To date, we have reached more than 226,000 men and women using tools such as debates, mobile screen plays, and one-on-one sensitization, to create new attitudes and perceptions around sexual and gender-based violence.
We deliver our programs in close partnership with religious and community leaders, and with government structures such as schools and police services, to combat sexual violence. Espérance’s experience below illustrates the reach and impact of our program.
“Before International Medical Corps’ 16-week peer-to-peer discussion session engaging men to prevent violence against women, my husband did not have any consideration for me. He would beat me if I refused to have sex with him and return from work very late at night, reeking of alcohol. He is a teacher, but I never knew his salary. When I did ask what his salary was, my husband responded claiming I did not have a right to know and my role was cooking food for our two children. Without a space to speak openly about my concerns, I struggled for four years and suffered in silence.
One day the chief of our village spoke to my husband about International Medical Corps’ activities. My husband attended a meeting, and then surprisingly invited me to come along for the second. During this meeting, the facilitator explained the need to engage men in conversation to prevent violence against women. My husband registered for the 16-week discussion session. Within two weeks, my husband began coming home earlier – at first, I thought he was sick. A few weeks later, my husband was bathing our children – I thought he was going to look for a new wife. Then, my husband explained that he is learning positive behaviors in the discussion sessions and trying to change. I was still not convinced.
International Medical Corps’ discussion facilitator explained what my husband was learning and my husband began sharing the subjects discussed each week. Three months after the program began, my husband asked for forgiveness for his bad behavior, promising to be a better husband and father. Then, he showed me his payroll. I was so surprised, I cried. Since that day, our family lives in peace. I am even providing a source of income to my family by selling shoes. I thank International Medical Corps for this miracle in my life and in my household. I recommend this approach be spread everywhere to help other women to regain joy like I did.”
With continued support from GlobalGiving and other generous donors, International Medical Corps is creating lasting change and having a long-term impact, particularly for women in the community, by harnessing positive dialogue and action around women’s rights in the family and society. Many women in the Congo are now participating in decision making; community members are gathering to prevent sexual and gender-based violence; children are reporting sexual harassment and abuse; policemen are refusing bribes; and local radios are broadcasting topics related to such violence.
Preventing sexual and gender-based violence