Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)">

Online Program

Role of law enforcement in community preferences for addressing incidents of sexual violence against women in the easternĀ Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Dana Cernigliaro, MPH, PhD, Department of Dental Medicine, Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
Neetu John, Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Stella Babalola, PhD, Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: Violence and instability have marked the history of the DRC since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A result of this conflict has been increased acts of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), particularly towards women and girls. While SGBV laws exist, issues in the current legal system often impede formal prosecution of offenders. Objective: This study explores how deficiencies in law enforcement in eastern DRC affects community preferences and actions regarding the resolution of SGBV-related incidents. Methods: Focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs) were conducted in five locations in North and South Kivu, DRC between February and April 2011. Twenty FGDs and thirteen KIIs were conducted with community members, leaders and non-profit organizations. Interviews were conducted in Swahili, transcribed and translated into English. Results were analyzed using an inductive approach in Nvivo and Atlas Ti. Results: Almost all participants felt that SGBV was pervasive in their communities. Knowledge about existing SGBV laws was limited and out-of-court arrangements were common. These arrangements often included familial agreements without inclusion of the survivor. Reasons discussed for these arrangements included lack of faith in the legal system, fear of stigmatization from family or community and pervasiveness of SGBV. Results indicate that lack of accountability for incidents of sexual violence and private arraignments may have an enabling effect on sexual violence in these areas. Discussion: Further attention is needed to investigate potential factors enabling SGBV to occur in the DRC, with particular focus on the legal system's ability to justly prosecute SGBV offenders.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe reasons that out-of-court arrangements occur to resolve incidents of sexual violence in eastern DRC. Explain the role of law enforcement on community preferences and actions in resolving issues of sexual violence in eastern DRC.

Keyword(s): Women, Law

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have had several years of experience with research on vulnerable populations, women's health and sexually transmitted diseases. My particular interests and past experience involve health program development and implementation targeted for vulnerable populations. I have been involved in analysis and development of this research on sexual violence in the DRC with the Project Investigator for 2 years now.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.