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Issue In Focus
Democratic Republic of Congo
BACKGROUND ON CONFLICT IN THE CONGO
The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed over five million lives since 1996, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II. While mass rape has been a feature of many civil and interstate conflicts, the violence in eastern DRC features unique and disturbing characteristics. In 2007, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes called rape in the DRC, "the worst in the world."
Tens of thousands of women have been raped or sexually mutilated. The uncommonly brutal nature of the crimes leads to a host of health problems for survivors: pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease (including HIV), and traumatic fistula – a condition that leaves women incontinent of urine, stool, or both. Many women and their children are abandoned by their husbands and communities and become homeless and destitute.
HHI's work is focused on identifying prevention and mitigation tactics that can protect Congolese women's health and human rights at the individual, community, and international levels.
UPDATE FROM THE FIELD
Jocelyn Kelly is currently in eastern DRC working on two projects for the Women in War program. The first examines which factors – societal, financial and health-related – influence men’s behaviors towards survivors of sexual violence and to identify the barriers towards acceptance and reintegration of survivors into their families and communities after rape. The findings from this project will inform evidence-based interventions that can prevent rejection of survivors in the future.
The second project will take a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach to bring together Congolese and international partners to conduct qualitative research that will more effectively examine how communities are affected by complex related to protracted instability and violence.
Looking Horror in the Face
HHI researchers don't flinch in examination of Congo rape crisis
Researchers probe the roots of "crimes against humanity"
Rebuilding places that peace abandoned
Seeking the whole picture of Congo violence
Being there for atrocity’s survivors
WOMEN IN WAR BLOG
More information on HHI's research and on gender based violence in the DRC can be found on Research Coordinator Jocelyn Kelly's Change.org blog.
IN THE MEDIA
To see a list of articles about our research in the DRC, please click here.
Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH, FACEP
Director of Women in War Program, Director of Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
Jocelyn Kelly, MS
Women in War Research Coordinator, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
Susan Bartels, MD, MPH
Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University
Sadia Hader, MD, MPH
Division Director of Family Planning, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH
Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
Jen Scott, MD, MBA
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Julia VanRooyen, MD
Visiting Scientist, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
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