From paper to practice, a guide to the actors who seek to implement a gender perspective into peace operations.
Disseminating positive examples to further the achievement of success.
Fight against Sexual Violence
In conflict settings, fight against sexual violence is a cross-cutting issue that requires the involvement of a number of interconnected domains: political willingness, improvement of justice system to fight against impunity, capacities of public health structures to ensure adequate assistance to victims, knowledge and awareness of women status, understanding gender within each cultural context to identify measures of prevention and protection, analysis of sexual violence incidents to improve prevention capacities, protection and response to single cases and complex emergencies, such as mass rapes.
This implies the involvement of a huge number of international, national and local actors, from Government, to UN system, international donors and civil society. In order to be effective, the numerous initiatives that compose the framework of fight against sexual violence need to be coherent with each other in the impacts they create. The initiatives also must be geographically coordinated, in order to avoid gaps or duplications. For instance, bringing awareness to local communities on where and how to find medical assistance in case of sexual violence will have a very limited impact if the public and private health structures that are supposed to provide those services are not adequately trained and equipped. Hence, awareness campaigns need to be joined with a support for health structures to obtain an effective impact.
For instance, the Sexual Violence Unit in MONUSCO works in close cooperation with a large number of actors, both within and outside the peacekeeping mission.
The results of these interactions in constant development are a series of better practices, some of them becoming systematic practices.
Creation of initiatives’ coordination’s regular structures to fight against sexual violence in Eastern DRCongo (Working Groups on Fight against Sexual Violence)
In the Provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and the Ituri District of Oriental Province in DRCongo, the SVCU supported the set-up of four working groups to combat sexual violence. Once a month several international and local NGOs, public institutions and UN structures gather to discuss on needs, gaps, solutions to prevent and respond to SV cases. Each working group is specialised in one of the domains of fight against sexual violence: fight against impunity, protection and prevention, multi-sectorial assistance, data collection and mapping – all co-lead by a Government institution and a specialised UN Agency.
This regular mechanism of coordination is the result of a constant support from SVCU to Government and UN Agencies, in order to respectively obtain a responsible ownership and a coordinated participation
Adoption of the National Standards Protocols for DRCongo on a minimum quality of services of assistance to sexual violence survivors
As a result of the creation, by the Working Groups, of a regular mechanism to allow for coordination, the National Congolese Ministries of Gender and Health adopted the Standard Protocols to ensure a minimum quality in the services of assistance offered to victims of sexual violence around the country. In a country like DRCongo, poor in resource distribution and with many institutions collapsed because of the conflict, ensuring the right of sexual violence victims to receive adequate and comprehensive assistance is often impossible. These National Standard Protocols result from a long collective work with Provincial and National State Institutions, International and National NGOs, and UN system both as peacekeeping operation and UN Agencies. Together these different actors identified gaps and resources in order to elaborate, validate and adopt guidelines that indicate the minimum standards of assistance that need to be provided to each victim of sexual violence, while respecting the international quality standard. In order to implement these Protocols, several public health institutions, supported by UN and International actors, started training sessions to medical personnel on medical assistance to SV victims.
Provision of chirurgical assistance to women suffering from fistula in Katanga Province
Coordinating collaboration between MONUSCO, UNHCR and Panzi Hospital, SVCU organised a chirurgical mission to Pweto, a geographically inaccessible and insecure locality of the Katanga province in DRCongo. Fistula is a serious medical condition caused by obstetric complications or very violent sexual aggressions. Due to fistula women are incontinent and, in DRCongo, consequently rejected by their own communities. A mobile medical team of Panzi Hospital specialised in the reparation of fistula operated 35 women, otherwise condemned to a life of suffering, discrimination and vulnerability. These kinds of operations are not available in the whole Katanga province, and the organisation of such a mission allowed to shed light on the silent drama of the region, where interventions to fight against sexual violence and maternal health are very rare due to lack of funds
Elaboration and implementation of a preventive contingency plan with delivery of medical kits and training to health structures in Eastern DRcongo in order to provide assistance to sexual violence victims in case of crisis
The coordination among several actors, from SVCU to UN Agencies, international and national NGOs with expertise in medical assistance, and most importantly the public health institutions in DRCongo, allow to pre-deliver special medical kits (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis kits) in local health structures where a high risk of sexual violence is evaluated based on the conflict situation.
Among the best practices linked to the interaction among sections of the peacekeeping mission:
Provision of training sessions on Prevention, Response and Reporting on sexual violence cases to officers of military peacekeeping force in MONUSCO
Since 2012, SVCU and the Gender Office in MONUSCO started to collaborate to train officers of MONUSCO military peacekeeping Forces on the respect of confidentiality principles, protection in reporting sexual violence incidents, assistance to sexual violence victims, and identification of actions to mainstream risks of sexual and gender based violence during patrolling and other protection activities. More than 120 have been trained so far in South Kivu province.
Provision of training sessions on Prevention, Response and Reporting of sexual violence cases to Community Liaison Assistants in MONUSCO
Since 2012, SVCU, in collaboration with Civil Affairs section in MONUSCO, provides regular training sessions to about 50 CLAs, two of which women.
Awareness-raising sessions and training on prevention and response to sexual violence, to Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC)
In collaboration with the military peacekeeping Force of MONUSCO, a battalion of 300 troops received training by SVCU. In addition, a joint initiative from military and several civilian components of MONUSCO resulted in 1.100 FARDC troops having received an awareness-raising session by SVCU before the joint military operations FARDC-MONUSCO occurred in South Kivu.
Awareness-raising sessions on conflict-related sexual violence to ex combatants of internal armed groups in DRCongo.
In collaboration with the Child Protection section of MONUSCO, SVCU participates to ad hoc sessions of awareness-raising to ex combatants of internal armed groups waiting for their integration into the Congolese Armed Forces. These sessions intend to stimulate the release of young girls married with combatants.
Awareness-raising sessions on prevention of and response to sexual violence, to dependants of FARDC in DRCongo.
In collaboration with Gender Office of MONUSCO and local NGOs, SVCU organised once a month awareness-raising sessions on SV prevention and response for FARDC dependants in military camps in South Kivu province.
Training on prevention and response to sexual violence cases to Congolese Police and Congolese Penitentiary Agents.
Collaborating with UNPOL, SVCU provides training to Congolese Police and to Congolese penitentiary agents.
Identification and roll-out of Early Warning indicators for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.
SVCU is working, under the supervision of the Office of SRSG-SVC, on the implementation of Early Warning indicators for conflict-related sexual violence.