Did you know?
“Without USHINDI, well… I would be dead,” says a young Congolese woman, who asked that her name not be shared to protect her from backlash in her community.
USHINDI, meaning “victory” in Kiswahili, is a USAID-funded program that IMA World Health and partners are implementing for survivors of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The United Nations has referred to eastern DRC as the “rape capital of the world.” In addition to the armed militias that conduct mass rapes to humiliate and scatter village populations, longstanding practices of inequality and oppression perpetuate the violence that women are vulnerable to every day.
USHINDI, a 5 year program, supports survivors of SGBV through a holistic approach that incorporates four key elements: medical treatment, psychosocial counseling, legal support to bring attackers to justice, and economic support in the form of microloans, skills training and literacy training.
In 2011, IMA responded to 4,186 incidents of SGBV. Hundreds of women have learned to read and are now teaching others this empowering skill. Health workers have provided medical care to 3,349 people, and counseling to 4,805. And while women and children are the primary groups served, the USHINDI program also supports male survivors of SGBV.
Though responding to immediate needs is critical, IMA also works within the community to change attitudes and behaviors, with the goal of preventing future incidents and remove the burdens of shame and responsibility from survivors. In addition, a key USHINDI program element involves training local magistrates to ensure that constitutional laws—rather than traditional laws—are known and upheld.
To further advance the mission to end SGBV around the world, IMA is also in the process of forming a coalition of faith-based organizations to respond to SGBV both domestically and internationally. Keep watch for more information on how you can support this important effort!
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