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.

Practical Examples:

8 new savings and loan associations were established in Northern Uganda by FOWAC in 2017. Small loans and basic knowledge of bookkeeping, marketing and customer service open up opportunities for women to earn their own income.

15 girls learned knitting and tailoring in four-month courses and were subsequently given sewing machines and other materials as a first step towards self-employment.

1,190 women and girls affected by violence have been supported by our partner organisations in South Kivu since 2015. 446 of them were referred to clinics for further medical treatment.

Partner organisations:
Burundi: Maison Marthe Robin, SFBSP, MUKENYEZI MENYA
DR Congo: ADDF, PAIF; South Kivu programme: AFPDE, EPF, HAM, La Floraison, RAPI, RFDP
Rwanda: SEVOTA

Project regions:
Burundi: Bujumbura, provinces of Cibitoke, Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural and Mairie
DR Congo: provinces of North and South Kivu
Rwanda: Muhanga, Kirehe, Kigali
Uganda: Districts of Nebbi, Kitgum, Lamwo in Northern Uganda

Project priorities:

  • provide holistic medical, psychosocial and socio-economic 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 improve 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
  • train psychosocial counsellors in stress and trauma-sensitive care within the scope of the pool of women experts

Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ)
Fondation Smartpeace
Medicor Foundation
Fürsorge und Bildungsstiftung
Anne-Marie Schindler Foundation
Sigrid Rausing Trust
Donations/own resources

Source 'facts & figures': annual report 2017

Overview of all partner organisations of medica mondiale

25 years of medica mondiale – an overview