A hundred young people to challenge normalisation of violence in Kisenso, DRC

Photo: ActionAid DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been described as the world’s most dangerous place for women and girls following a United Nations Report.

The Demographic Health Survey (2013-2014) indicates that over half of women (52%) have reported experiencing physical violence in their life time since 15 years old with nearly 27% of women having been sexually violated in the last 12 months.

Congolese women and girls have been affected by several years of conflict, political instability and have experienced some of the most horrific forms of violence.

File 37918Peer educators introduced to community

Over two million women have reported being raped in their lifetime with more than four million experiencing violence from an intimate partner. Another four hundred thousand (400,000) women have been raped in the preceding 12 months.

Behind these choking statistics lie the broken lives of women and girls, which have allowed local and international attention to address violence against women and girls in conflict. In Kisenso, many women and girls live in fear of rape, sexual assault, harassment, and humiliation on a daily basis. Living in such risky contexts may be viewed for some of these women and girls as major obstacles to basic rights like public spaces, and basic needs such as water, and electricity provision.

In response to addressing this phenomenon, AA DRC in collaboration with CONAFED, a local partner, has trained hundred (60 females, 40 males) peer educators between the ages of 16 to 22 years in the Kisenso Commune of the Kinshasa Province to support young people, especially women, understand their right to a violence-free life, challenge normalisation of violence and demand gender responsive public services. The peer educators were taken through sessions with specific focus on gender equality, patriarchy, human and women’s rights, safe cities for women and girls, sexual and reproductive health rights, norms of masculinity, social and traditional norm, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and transformative feminist leadership.

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These peer educators, who will receive mentoring and coaching support from AA DRC and its partners, were inaugurated at a session attended by the Leader of Kisenso Commune, Commander of Police in charge of Kisenso and law enforcement agencies and public service providers in Kisenso. Logistics were provided for the young people to enable them hold sessions and mobilise at least 100 young people from 25 communities within the Kisenso territory to campaign for the safety and security of women, girls and young people.

The young advocates are also expected to provide new insights in the complexity of violence against women and girls in terms of scale, scope, and the nature of the problem, variation across and within the target areas of Kisenso, women’s experiences and men’s perpetration of different forms of violence and the underlying drivers, risk and protective factors that influence the occurrence of VAWG.

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