Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice will support two local community-based safe houses providing medical, psychosocial and legal support to survivors of sexual violence in conflict-affected provinces of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Support will also include relief in the aftermath of the May 2021 eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano.
Since the mid-1990s thousands of people, particularly women and girls, have been victims of rape and other forms of conflict-related sexual violence in the DR Congo. The provinces of North and South Kivu have experienced extremely high rates of conflict-related sexual violence, continuing to the present day. We operate local safe houses where survivors can receive immediate medical treatment, psychosocial support and legal assistance to help with recovery and begin the healing process.
The safe houses supported by Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice offer immediate assistance to survivors of sexual violence in communities that do not have hospitals or easily accessible health clinics. Survivors of sexual violence can seek urgent assistance, and can be referred to hospitals, health and legal clinics, and receive psychosocial support in a safe and supportive environment. Safe house staff also conducts outreach activities to raise awareness and help prevent sexual violence.
In the last three years, the safe house project has helped over 3,500 sexual violence survivors and has reached over 17,000 community members through community awareness-raising activities to help prevent sexual violence. Communities with greater awareness of issues relating to sexual violence are better able to combat these crimes, and to support survivors in their recovery process.