248986 Examining stigmatization of sexual violence survivors in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo: A mixed methods study

Monday, October 31, 2011: 12:50 PM

Jocelyn Kelly, MS , Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Michael Vanrooyen, MD MPH , Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Justin Kabanga , Celpa, Centre D'Assistance Medico Psycho-Sociale, Bukavu, Congo-Kinshasa
Introduction: Sexual violence has been a pervasive and destructive feature of the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Women state that the stigma they face as survivors of sexual violence can be as traumatic as the attack itself. The reactions of a survivor's family and community are therefore highly correlated with her ability to heal.

Methods: Two hundred surveys were administered to women in 3 field sites by trained social workers in South Kivu Province. Surveys addressed women's experiences with sexual violence, and economic and social consequences of stigmatization.

Results: Of the women surveyed, 38.7% women reported either leaving their house or being abandoned by a family member because of sexual violence. Over half (62%) of those who reported sexual violence said their financial control in house was diminished after disclosing sexual violence to their family and 70.5% of respondents stopped going to farm because of shame related to rape. Five percent of women reported increased physical abuse in the home after sexual violence, and 40% of women reported increased verbal abuse in the home after sexual violence. Women identified health care professionals, NGO workers and religious leaders as potential figures who could change stigmatizing attitudes towards survivors of violence.

Conclusions: After sexual violence, women report significant stigmatization in their families and communities. Stigmatization has economic consequences, as well as social consequences. Programs aimed at helping women recover from rape must take into account the stigmatization of survivors by family members and others in the community.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare men and women's attitudes towards, and experiences with, the stigmatization of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Identify the most effective interventions to mitigate and prevent the stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence

Keywords: Gender, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the research coordinator for this project and have supervised the design, data collection and analysis of this work directly.
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.