The main region being supported is the Great Lakes area of Central Africa where many countries are affected by past or present civil wars, such as DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Local women’s rights organisations have very few resources but nonetheless provide essential assistance for survivors and their families. To strengthen their work and promote local approaches to providing aid, medica mondiale established its Grant Program, providing carefully chosen local partners with finances and expert advice. At least 80 per cent of the grant program is designated for this region. In 2016, 8 women's rights organisations benefited from support to help them supply and advise survivors of sexualised and gender-specific violence.
Sexualised violence against women and girls in the Great Lakes area of Central Africa
- UN figures report 1,244 women being raped across DR Congo in the three months from January to March 2010 alone. The International Rescue Committee has documented 40,000 cases of gender-specific violence in DR Congo from 2003 to 2007. The number of unreported cases is probably much higher.
- One in four raped women in DR Congo is under 18 years of age. One in a hundred becomes pregnant because of the rape. One in ten raped women is infected with HIV.
- In DR Congo most of the women are attacked while out in the fields or are forcibly abducted from their homes. The perpetrators are generally members of the Congolese army, militias, or rebel groups but also civilians. What they have in common is their brutality. Many victims are abducted, sometimes raped repeatedly for weeks on end, and then abandoned in a severely injured state
- The survivors of the violence only seldom find medical, psychological or material support because social and health services are almost entirely non-existent, particularly in the crisis regions in the east of DR Congo. And especially in rural areas there is a shortage of female doctors and nursing staff. The women and girls often suffer severe injuries, which make it difficult for them to travel to the nearest clinic. In addition, most of them are too poor to pay for transport, medicines or treatment.
- Sexualised wartime violence was employed in Ruanda as a tactic for spreading fear and for demonstrating power. According to the United Nations children’s organisation UNICEF, the estimated number of raped women and girls lies somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 – precise figures are not known. Most of them were murdered after they were raped, bur some of the survivors became unwilling mothers as a result of the acts of sexualised violence; official estimates range from 2000 to 5000 children, the number of unreported cases is undoubtedly much higher.
- In many villages in North-Uganda, traditional customs forbid women to own property.
- Since the beginning of the military conflicts in Uganda in the early 1980s, many young women and girls have been kidnapped, raped and sexually enslaved. For months, in some cases years, they were held prisoner by the rebels and forced to both serve them sexually and to kill.
- Girls and young women in Uganda who were repeatedly raped, are seen by their families as "unclean" and are often ostracised. In addition, many of the young women in the rebel camps gave birth to children as a consequence of repeated rape. These children often experience both a difficult and traumatic relationship with their mother and rejection by their wider families and communities.
In order to support the work of local women’s rights organisations, medica mondiale set up its Grant Program in 2004. This among other things provides grants to support selected organisations, mainly in the central African region of the Great Lakes. The aims are to ensure direct local assistance for women and girls affected by violence, build up specialist capacity, and facilitate the organisations' access to knowledge and networks. If the cooperation proves to be successful during the grant period it is then possible to expand this into a more comprehensive joint program. In this way medica mondiale can establish long-term partnerships.
- FOWAC (Foundation of Women affected by Conflict): With medica mondiale’s help, since 2006 survivors of sexualised wartime violence, kidnapping and slavery are provided with support and accompaniment in the difficult process of reintegration into their families and village communities.
Workshops are held to make villagers and families aware of the special problems and needs of traumatised girls and young women. Particular emphasis is also placed on cooperation with traditional authority figures such as clan chiefs, as their approval is decisive for the long-term success of a return.
To enable them to feed themselves and their children, women are trained in sustainable agriculture and receive start-up aid in the form of seed. Courses teach them agricultural production techniques and the fundamentals of marketing for agricultural products. FOWAC staff workers make regularly scheduled visits to continue looking after the girls and young women after their return home.
- The Rwandan organisations Kanyarwanda and SEVOTA (Solidarité pour l’Epanouissement des Veuves et des Orphelins visant le Travail et l’Auto promotion) set up the women’s forum Abiyubaka (Engl.: People who help each other), which offers support to about 30 women and their children to deal with both everyday problems and their traumatic experiences. All of them were raped during or after the genocide and have given birth to children of the men who raped them. In 2007 another women’s forum was founded under the name Bizeye (en: hope). medica mondiale has been sponsoring these project partners since 2008.
- PAIF - Support for survivors of sexualized violence: medica mondiale has been collaborating with the Congolese women’s rights organization PAIF (Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Féminines) since 2004. The organization provides support services specifically to women and girl survivors of rape in the Kivu provinces. PAIF provides emotional support and counselling as well as economic aid to the victims, and escorts them to hospitals, to the police, and to court. PAIF also educates families, communities, and institutions about violence against women, documents cases of sexualized violence, and advocates for the prosecution of the perpetrators.
- AFPDE - Medical aid for female rape victims: With medica mondiale support, the Congolese women’s organisation AFPDE (Association des Femmes pour la Promotion et le Développement Endogène) is able to provide medical care to women in Kaniola, a community in the province of South Kivu. AFPDE helps with the payment for operations and medication, and also ensures that women receive psychosocial support. Around 950 survivors of sexualised violence have been able to obtain medical and psychosocial help since 2008 thanks to medica mondiale.
- La Floraison – Shelter, support and reintegration: In 2012 medica mondiale started supporting the women’s organisation La Floraison (The Blossoming), which was founded in 2008 in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. La Floraison offers comprehensive support, counselling, family mediation and socio-economic reintegration. The team organises educational events on the issues of sexualised violence and women’s rights. They also set up a place of refuge for survivors of sexualised violence, called the “Maison d’Écoute” (Listening House).
(As of 2017)
4 project regions:
Burundi: Bujumbura, provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza; DR Congo: provinces of North and South Kivu; Rwanda: Muhanga (South Province), Kirehe (East Province), Kigali; Uganda: districts of Apac, Nebbi, Kitgum, Lamwo
- provide holistic support for survivors of sexualised violence and their children
- prevent sexualised violence in communities and schools
- engage in advocacy work with relevant civil society and state representatives to achieve better support and protection for survivors
- offer training and organisational development courses for women’s organisations that provide direct support to women and girls affected by sexualised violence
- support the implementation of the existing national legislation on domestic violence at community level in Uganda
5 of which are small-scale projects within the scope of the South-Kivu programme
Burundi: Maison Marthe Robin pour la vie, SFBLSP; DR Kongo: ADDF, PAIF South Kivu programme: AFPDE, EPF, HAM, La Floraison, RAPI, RFDP; Rwanda: SEVOTA; Uganda: ACFODE, FOWAC, MEMPROW
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), Fondation Smartpeace, medicor foundation, Fürsorge und Bildungsstiftung, Anne-Marie Schindler Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Donations/own resources
Project expenses 2016: 1.211.078,71 €
184 kilos of beans and maize harvested in the first year by the girls from the Erussi school in Northern Uganda. Their sale paid for the school fees of girls from low-income families.
140 teachers, parents, boys and girls, and local leaders discussed sexualised violence, women’s rights and girls’ education at a community meeting in Nebbi.
Around 100 young adults, all children of the genocide in Rwanda, meet regularly for joint empowering activities in SEVOTA-initiated youth clubs in their homes
Source 'facts & figures': annual report 2016