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Stigmatisation and rejection of survivors of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Katherine Albutt, Jocelyn Kelly, Justin Kabanga, Michael VanRooyen
Published: 
Jul 2016

Studies report that between 6 per cent and 29 per cent of survivors of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are rejected by their families and communities. This research project was designed to provide insights into survivors' experiences of stigmatisation and rejection. Surveys were conducted with 310 women as they sought psychosocial services in eastern DRC. In total, 44.3 per cent of women reported suffering rejection after sexual violence. The majority of women felt that their status in the household (58.0 per cent) and community (54.9 per cent) diminished after rape. The odds of rejection were greater among women reporting ongoing displacement, pregnancy owing to sexual violence, worsening family relations, and diminished community status. This work highlights the extremely high levels of loss associated with the war in eastern DRC, particularly among survivors of sexual violence. The rejection of a survivor of rape has concrete and devastating psychosocial consequences.

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