Women and Youth of Kisenso participated in the Global Week of Action dedicated to the fight against street harassment

Consolata Nzeeb

This was held from 10 to 16 April 2016 by an NGO called 'Stop Street Harassment'. This structure is given the mission to document and eradicate street harassment based on sex in the world. This year to denounce this phenomenon, joining this movement, many institutions and groups in several countries have taken actions such as conducting security audits in bus stations in Papua New Guinea, distributing cards against sexism and homophobia in Germany, the organization of panels held by 14 women from Chile, Romania, Kenya, and the United States to discuss their experiences therefore, etc.

AA DRC also took position against this phenomenon. She has chosen to be involved in the third type of actions proposed by the organizer: "Advocacy for sustainable change ''. On Friday, April 16, it has supported a meeting of women and youth of Kisenso with their local authority to share the recommendations of the research done in 2014 in this municipality on the root causes of harassment and sexual violence experienced by women and girls. This research entitled '’City safety, violence and harassment among women and girls in public spaces in Kisenso Municipality in Kinshasa’' was funded by ActionAid.

More than twenty participants were present in a room provided by the municipality for this meeting. Professor Bavon Mupenda who led this research was invited to share the findings and recommendations. Then, the youth and women inquired about the actual involvement of the mayor and his staff in solving problems related to the supply of water, electricity and the Kuluna phenomenon (banditry maintained by young people when the  night falls in all avenues and dark corners).

About the water supply, residents confirmed having taps through which water does not flow. Girls and women are then forced to fetch water in the street between midnight and 5: 00 AM. And as avenues are obscure, they are always victims of assault, harassment or rape. And that day was for them an opportunity to ask the local authority to be more engaged with the providers of these services in order to fight against violence against women. For physical and sexual abuse experienced by girls and women mostly in the streets, the participants criticized the corruption (known by these authorities) of magistrates who like to release these offenders when they are arrested by the police through corruption. They also demanded public lighting in all neighborhoods and regular police  patrols as effective ways to fight such human rights violations.

The municipal secretary, Mr. Zephyrin Mafuankodi, representing the Mayor, acknowledged that the authorities were aware of all the concerns raised by participants for more security and free mobility.  That they regularly worked on these issues, proposed actions, but the implementation depended on the decision of the provincial authority. This is why it seems nothing is done for stopping violence in the streets while the situation is monitored, he said. 

Participants concluded in saying they understood the heaviness of the Congolese administration but that their authorities still had to push harder for Kisenso to become more secure. 

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