From 4 to 7 October, Baroness Anelay, FCO Minister and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).The Minister announced new UK support for implementation of the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict, and met senior Government figures to reinforce the importance of overcoming the challenges to effective prevention and response to sexual violence in the DRC.
During her visit, Baroness Anelay formally presented the International Protocol in the DRC, before announcing £40,000 of new UK funding for the NGO TRIAL. This funding will support TRIAL’s work to provide training on the use of the Protocol to local actors in the DRC, enabling better documentation of sexual violence and aiding the fight for justice. The Protocol is designed to help those who work directly with survivors to effectively gather information and document sexual violence while providing support to survivors, in order to strengthen the evidence base for prosecutions. The Minister also announced the translation of the Protocol into Lingala and Swahili to encourage its widespread use across the country.
The Minister visited La Pepiniere, a DfID project in Kinshasa which works to empower young women and girls in the DRC. This group faces some of the greatest challenges in the country, with a 50% illiteracy rate and only a third of girls attending secondary school. La Pepiniere has so far trained 15 Congolese girls to become researchers into this area, equipping them with the skills to provide information that will help to shape future UK programming.
The Minister held meetings with senior DRC figures, including the Minister of Defence, and Madame Jeanine Mabunda, the President’s Personal Representative in the fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment. They discussed security challenges, including progress on their National Strategy to Fight Sexual Violence and the National Action Plan for the Congolese Army which was announced following the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in June 2014.
Speaking at the conclusion of her visit, the Minister said:
I am delighted to have been able to visit the DRC and see first-hand the work underway in country to support women and girls. The presentation of the International Protocol, with £40,000 of new support from the UK, reaffirms our commitment in the fight against sexual violence.
Here in the DRC, the terrible impact of sexual violence upon survivors – and whole communities – is laid bare. The shared commitment of our two countries to a brighter future free of this abhorrent practice is at the heart of the relationship.