The Democratic Republic of Congo experiences a high number of cases of gender-based violence. Our team support the survivors on their recovery process




Fidèle (imaginary name) is 21 years old and is one of the millions of displaced people living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to widespread insecurity, she decided to move from the small locality of Mamove to the town of Beni in North Kivu province with her two-years-old son and another baby she is still expecting. Fidèle has been abused for almost a year by the man she has been living with for three years. Psychological violence, rape, assault, beatings. “Sometimes I would rather die than live”, she said several times. The conditions she experienced resulted in the development of suicidal tendencies, anxiety and anger. “I felt lonely, useless and unable to support myself”, she told us.


The consequences inflicted by rape, domestic violence or a forced marriage transcend the moment of assault. In most cases, survivors are left with physical, but also psychological scars for the rest of their lives.


In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are many cases of gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reported cases of gender-based violence increased by 86 per cent between January and September 2020. Although these incidents of sexual violence were mostly committed by civilians and in private settings, they were undoubtedly influenced by increasingly widespread harmful traditional social and cultural practices, persistent insecurity in the country, the vulnerability of displaced persons forced to move, and inadequate humanitarian assistance. In the country, displaced or returnee women and girls are the most affected by these violations, especially in the eastern provinces.


The humanitarian crisis in the country


For more than 20 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been going through a humanitarian crisis that is now considered chronic. In addition to ongoing armed conflicts that have displaced more than five million people, there are all the problems of a country characterised by strong political and economic instability. In 2020, the situation worsened, including violence episodes, due to worsening food insecurity and epidemics of cholera, ebola, measles and malaria, followed also by Covid-19. In this context, where humanitarian needs are increasing, restrictions on humanitarian access are also intensifying, particularly in the most affected provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu.


INTERSOS has been in the country since 2009 and plays a crucial role in restoring dignity to women survivors of gender-based violence, through legal and psychological services and protection monitoring activities. The intervention of our aid and legal workers has allowed Fidèle and many like her to participate in several sessions of psychosocial support and follow up for a year, to create the conditions to improve their psychological health.


“After the psychological support I received, I feel alive again, I feel able to work and earn some money”, Fidèle told our staff. Insomnia and irritability problems have disappeared, and she just regained her self-confidence, and she even started a self-supporting activity. “I feel a sense of comfort and I have found the strength to get back on my feet”.