Democratic Republic of the Congo

Population Size:

86,790,567.[1]

Number of People Experiencing Domestic Abuse Each Year:

In the DRC, there are alarmingly high report of violence towards women with rape being used as a "weapon of war" in areas of conflict.[2]

Each year, approximately 30,000 women are subject to gender-based violence.[3]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of Domestic Abuse to the Economy Each Year:

No research.

Estimated % Change due to COVID-19:

The volume of calls to Lukasa’s Forum of Women Citizens and Activists for Governance, Democracy and Development, increased by over 1,000%, having gone from 5 calls per week to 10 per day.[4] With only 2,082 social workers for 84 million people, Congolese authorities are poorly equipped to help survivors.[5]


Current Law and Policy:

Customary law varies in the DRC by province. Although the law considers assault a crime it does not provide any specific penalty for domestic violence. Spousal rape is not specifically prohibited and is not recognised in Congolese culture. Victims rarely reported incidents of domestic violence/rape due to social stigma, prevailing societal and cultural attitudes and pressures. At present, there is no law prohibiting domestic violence. Moreover, there is an absence of shelters, counselling and rehabilitation services for victims of domestic violence.

In its 2017 Concluding Observations on the fourth periodic review of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN Human Rights Committee stated its concern about ‘the persistence of sociocultural traditions that condone domestic violence and about the absence of a legal framework for preventing and punishing such violence, including marital rape.’ Men who rape women may be forced to marry their victim as a penalty, which negatively impacts women and denies them justice. Dynamique des Femmes Juristes (DFJ), a human-rights organization, is working to change the status quo. DFJ has reached more than 100,000 people through awareness campaigns and is working to empower women, offering access to medical, legal and psychological services.

Reports of some progress having been made in passing laws against sexual and gender-based violence, and improving women’s security, “conflict- related sexual violence as a deliberate strategy in areas of conflict still occurs with impunity” and had proved a “formidable challenge” for peacekeeping missions.[6] Domestic abuse is often seen as acceptable, even by women, according to Pierre Ferry, head of child protection at the UN children’s fund UNICEF.[7]


Frontline Services:

 

Sources


[1] The World Bank, (1).

[2] Refworld, “Democratic Republic of the Congo: domestic and Sexual Violence, including Legislation, State Protection and Services Available to Victims (2006 – March 2012)”, (refworld.org, 17 April 2012).

[3] Reliefweb, “Gender-Based Violence in the DRC: Key Facts and Priorities of Humanitarian Actors”, (reliefweb.int, 24 May 2019).

[4] World Economic Forum, COVID-19: Calls to abuse hotline in Congo spike during lockdown.

[5] Reliefweb, “Gender-Based Violence in the DRC: Key Facts and Priorities of Humanitarian Actors”, (reliefweb.int, 24 May 2019).

[6] United Kingdom Home Office, “Country Policy and Information Note: BRC – Gender-Base Violence”, (2018), Note, 27.

[7] World Economic Forum, “COVID-19: Calls to Abuse Hotline in Congo Spike During Lockdown”, (weforum.org, 2 June 2020).


Further Reading


[1] Home Office, (272).

[2] OECD, “Democratic Republic of the Congo”, (2019), Social Institutions and Gender Index.

[3] M. Luneghe and M. Esperance, “In DRC, Female Lawyers Take on Domestic Violence”, (globalpressjournal.com, 8 March 2018).