February 06, 2008
CARE Activitists Challenge GBV in Congo
MRI recently received an update about some important work that CARE International is doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region of Central Africa.
This news comes via Khushbu Srivastava, the director of CARE's Great Lakes Advocacy Group (GLAG). GLAG, comprised of CARE Country Offices in Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, seeks to address the root causes of violence against women in the Great Lakes region by increasing the capacity of grassroots communities to advocate against SGBV on the local, national and regional levels.
The following thread contains a report from GLAG's DRC coordinator, Raissa, and was forwarded to MRI by Khushbu Srivastava.
This note (english translation below) is from Raissa, our dynamic GLAG focal point in DRC. Yesterday, she organized the first of a series of advocacy talks between 19 grassroots GLAG activists and provincial- level ministers and UNFPA officials in Maniema, North Kivu and South Kivu. Her letter, and the work of activists, speaks of how positive change is possible through the commitment and courage of a few.
Warm congratulations and best of luck to our DRC activists, Raissa, Nasibu and our other staff.
Hello to everyone,
I am very happy to inform you that things are beginning to move for the DRC activists. We began the legal training for victims of sexual violence, as the activists had hoped and wished for.
Three major themes were developed: the judicial instruments at the national and international level on sexual violence, the action plan of activists for the second phase and the Scope of Work that the activists will deliver to the administrative and political authorities...
Today, we developed the first theme, which had two parts:
1. The national and international laws on sexual violence
2. The policies in place regarding sexual violence: this part was developed by Madame the Provincial Minister of Health, Gender and Advocacy. In brief, she informed the activists of the decision of the governor which consisted of transferring those guilty of sexual crimes to Goma, while waiting for the construction of prisons in Maniema. She also spoke of her sectoral plan on sexual violence for this year, defended and supported by the counsel of ministries, in which UNFPA is responsible for the medical treatment of victims and the High Commission of UN has the financial responsibility for covering costs associated with the judicial process. For concluding, she called on the activists to denounce the cases of sexual violence in their village such that the local authorities can take the measures necessary without delay.
After her presentation, the activists spoke to inform Madame the Minister of the situation of victims of sexual violence in Maniema. It was a very moving movement for the activists and for the Minister to be before those who had lived a very difficult situation - they could not hold back their tears. The activists asked questions without fear and without reservation. For them and for the minister, it was the first occasion that they had been able to directly discuss together their problems without an intermediary.
Among the questions asked, one pertained to the protection of activists, the fear activists had regarding the decision of the Governor to transfer criminals of violence to Goma (they felt it was another manner of allowing them to escape). Another question pertained to the lack of medical care.
The Minister promised to write to the authorities of Maniema and other authorities ordering them to respect and make others respect the work of these activists. She asked the activists to collaborate with the minister to fight against the outbreaks of sexual violence in Maniema (she gave her contact number to all the activists and promised to open the door for them at all moments.)
In brief, we can say that the dream of GLAG DRC activists has begun. This opportunity with the Minister of Health, Gender and Advocacy was for the activists the beginning of their advocacy. Today, they demanded their protection and collaboration (the engagement and support of the Minister), who promised to support and defend activists' Scope of Work before the Council of Ministers and the Provincial Ministry.
This positive beginning is for the activists a strategy for bringing their advocacy to the national level via the channel of provincial Ministry and government.
Tomorrow, the activists will reflect on their plan of action for the second phase of GLAG after meeting the Project Coordinator of the Conjoint against Sexual Violence, led by UNFPA. In that which concerns this meeting, they will be advocating that victims of violence in the credit and savings groups of Wakinamama be entitled to medical care. I will share the figures with you next time, but the groups have currently registered 240 cases of violence, of which the majority have not received appropriate medical care.
Well, I will leave you to finish your work.
Posted by Daniel at February 6, 2008 12:32 PM