Posts tagged sexual violence

"The experience changed me completely; my innocence died there." Twenty years ago, Rachel Kiddell-Monroe was head of mission in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Here she talks about MSF’s response during the genocide and how the aid response and success in Rwanda should serve as a model for DRC’s North Kivu Province just over the border. 

Today marks 20 years since the Rwandan genocide during which approximately 800,000 people lost their lives. Many MSF staff were among the dead. For the first time MSF is sharing its internal communications during the genocide and its aftermath with the public. These reports depict the struggles and humanitarian dilemmas that the organization faced internally. See MSF’s Speaking Out Case Studies: http://speakingout.msf.org/en/genocide-of-rwandan-tutsi

Today marks 20 years since the Rwandan genocide during which approximately 800,000 people lost their lives. Many MSF staff were among the dead. For the first time MSF is sharing its internal communications during the genocide and its aftermath with the public. These reports depict the struggles and humanitarian dilemmas that the organization faced internally. See MSF’s Speaking Out Case Studies: http://speakingout.msf.org/en/genocide-of-rwandan-tutsi

Photo by Philippe Schneider
A nurse uses a doll to show where a patient was injured at the 9 Mile Clinic in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Doctors Without Borders treats survivors of sexual and domestic violence and trains local staff to provide integrated care. This is a simplified treatment protocol that includes: psychological first aid; prophylaxis for HIV and medicine for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs); emergency contraception; and vaccination to prevent Hepatitis B and tetanus—all in one session. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6850&cat=field-news

Photo by Philippe Schneider

A nurse uses a doll to show where a patient was injured at the 9 Mile Clinic in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Doctors Without Borders treats survivors of sexual and domestic violence and trains local staff to provide integrated care. This is a simplified treatment protocol that includes: psychological first aid; prophylaxis for HIV and medicine for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs); emergency contraception; and vaccination to prevent Hepatitis B and tetanus—all in one session. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6850&cat=field-news

All parties to the conflict must pay greater attention to this problem of rape. Given the frequency of sexual attacks, rape has become commonplace. The individuals responsible act with impunity and are rarely punished. At the same time, very few victims file charges because they are afraid of reprisals.
Thierry Goffeau, MSF head of mission in Goma, on the high levels of sexual violence in Goma camps.
Photo: People queue for food distribution in Mugunga III camp. DRC 2012 © Aurelie Baumel/MSF
DRC: High Levels of Sexual Violence in Goma Camps
People displaced by armed conflict around Goma are now suffering high levels of sexual violence in and around the camps where they have taken shelter.
Between December 3, 2012, and January 5, 2013, the MSF team working in Mugunga III camp, a few kilometers west of Goma, registered and treated 95 patients who were victims of sexual violence, with a notable increase in late December. MSF denounces the lack of action on the part of those responsible for protecting civilians and the poor security conditions in the Goma camps. 
“The camps and surrounding villages face a glaring lack of security,” said Thierry Goffeau, MSF head of mission in Goma. “The responsible authorities and the leaders of the various armed groups all claim—without exception—that they are defending the civilian populations. They must thus assume their responsibility and ensure that the most vulnerable are not subject to violence or reprisals.”

Photo: People queue for food distribution in Mugunga III camp. DRC 2012 © Aurelie Baumel/MSF

DRC: High Levels of Sexual Violence in Goma Camps

People displaced by armed conflict around Goma are now suffering high levels of sexual violence in and around the camps where they have taken shelter.

Between December 3, 2012, and January 5, 2013, the MSF team working in Mugunga III camp, a few kilometers west of Goma, registered and treated 95 patients who were victims of sexual violence, with a notable increase in late December. MSF denounces the lack of action on the part of those responsible for protecting civilians and the poor security conditions in the Goma camps. 

“The camps and surrounding villages face a glaring lack of security,” said Thierry Goffeau, MSF head of mission in Goma. “The responsible authorities and the leaders of the various armed groups all claim—without exception—that they are defending the civilian populations. They must thus assume their responsibility and ensure that the most vulnerable are not subject to violence or reprisals.”

MSF in Tari provides medical and psychological help for persons who have survived rape. Rape is a crime that affects many aspects of human life; it is a medical emergency, it is a psychological trauma and it has deep consequences on both family and societal level.
Minja is a mental health officer working with MSF on psychological support for victims of family and sexual violence in Papua New Guinea. Please leave your questions and comments for Minja below her blog post.
DRC: “At Night, the Stories … Come Back to Haunt Me”

Baraka, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—“I [MSF nurse Alice Echumbe] am the supervisor of the Jamaa Letu center, which in Swahili means “Our family.” MSF opened this center in May 2011 to offer additional community services, especially to pregnant women who need to be close to the hospital just before birth to avoid a long travel from their villages. 

The center also welcomes patients who want a more private and confidential setting for their consultations in family planning, voluntary HIV/AIDS testing (especially for pregnant women), treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and treatment for survivors of sexual violence. These survivors are not only women but [also] men and even children, some of them less than five years old.

I am a nurse by training and have worked for MSF since 2009, previously at MSF’s Baraka Hospital. I have done outreach work with mobile health teams, traveling to remote villages to raise awareness about health issues such as cholera, malnutrition, and TB. 

What our teams notice in the villages is that people often go to traditional healers when they are sick—for example if a child has malaria, one of the most common illnesses. But traditional medicine can sometimes lead to serious complications and can put patients at risk of dying, especially if they cannot get to a hospital in time. So we explain to the community and to traditional healers to recognize when it is necessary to seek help and send their patients to a health center. 

We also try to convince pregnant women to go to the rural health center or a hospital to give birth because those places have a skilled birth attendant, equipment, and drugs. 

Photo: DRC 2011 © Claudia Blume/MSF

DRC: “At Night, the Stories … Come Back to Haunt Me”

Baraka, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—“I [MSF nurse Alice Echumbe] am the supervisor of the Jamaa Letu center, which in Swahili means “Our family.” MSF opened this center in May 2011 to offer additional community services, especially to pregnant women who need to be close to the hospital just before birth to avoid a long travel from their villages.

The center also welcomes patients who want a more private and confidential setting for their consultations in family planning, voluntary HIV/AIDS testing (especially for pregnant women), treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and treatment for survivors of sexual violence. These survivors are not only women but [also] men and even children, some of them less than five years old.

I am a nurse by training and have worked for MSF since 2009, previously at MSF’s Baraka Hospital. I have done outreach work with mobile health teams, traveling to remote villages to raise awareness about health issues such as cholera, malnutrition, and TB.

What our teams notice in the villages is that people often go to traditional healers when they are sick—for example if a child has malaria, one of the most common illnesses. But traditional medicine can sometimes lead to serious complications and can put patients at risk of dying, especially if they cannot get to a hospital in time. So we explain to the community and to traditional healers to recognize when it is necessary to seek help and send their patients to a health center.

We also try to convince pregnant women to go to the rural health center or a hospital to give birth because those places have a skilled birth attendant, equipment, and drugs.

Photo: DRC 2011 © Claudia Blume/MSF

Rape was not made a criminal offence in Haiti until 2005. Violence against women was a problem in Haiti long before the earthquake, but the dangers for women have only been heightened in the earthquake’s aftermath. Most rape victims seen by MSF live in the insecure areas around Martissant in the south of Port-au-Prince, including Fontamara and Bolosse, where rape at gunpoint is a common occurrence.

In 2010, 150 rapes were reported in Martissant’s emergency health centre. However this figure does not show the full picture, as victims of sexual and domestic violence are often reluctant to seek treatment or report the crime for fear of reprisals. MSF organises awareness campaigns in slum areas of the city, emphasising confidentially and the need to seek treatment for sexual violence within 72 hours. In October 2010, MSF increased its capacity to treat victims of sexual violence in Haiti’s capital, offering comprehensive psychological and medical treatment.

Urban Survivors is a multimedia project by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in collaboration with the NOOR photo agency and Darjeeling Productions, highlighting the critical humanitarian and medical needs that exist in slums the world over.

Photo: © Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

Rape was not made a criminal offence in Haiti until 2005. Violence against women was a problem in Haiti long before the earthquake, but the dangers for women have only been heightened in the earthquake’s aftermath. Most rape victims seen by MSF live in the insecure areas around Martissant in the south of Port-au-Prince, including Fontamara and Bolosse, where rape at gunpoint is a common occurrence.

In 2010, 150 rapes were reported in Martissant’s emergency health centre. However this figure does not show the full picture, as victims of sexual and domestic violence are often reluctant to seek treatment or report the crime for fear of reprisals. MSF organises awareness campaigns in slum areas of the city, emphasising confidentially and the need to seek treatment for sexual violence within 72 hours. In October 2010, MSF increased its capacity to treat victims of sexual violence in Haiti’s capital, offering comprehensive psychological and medical treatment.

Urban Survivors is a multimedia project by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in collaboration with the NOOR photo agency and Darjeeling Productions, highlighting the critical humanitarian and medical needs that exist in slums the world over.

Photo: © Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

2011Treating Victims of Mass Rape in DRC

In the first few weeks of the year, MSF responds to two incidents of mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, treating, all told, more than 100 women, children, and men for sexual assault after they were attacked by militias operating in the area.

Learn more about MSF’s history at our website.

Photo: DRC 2006 © Spencer Platt / Getty Images

2011
Treating Victims of Mass Rape in DRC

In the first few weeks of the year, MSF responds to two incidents of mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, treating, all told, more than 100 women, children, and men for sexual assault after they were attacked by militias operating in the area.

Learn more about MSF’s history at our website.

Photo: DRC 2006 © Spencer Platt / Getty Images

We are extremely concerned about the fate of civilians in this area—normal people who have nothing to do with the conflict and who bear the brunt of a recent increase in violence and insecurity in this part of eastern DRC.
Annemarie Loof, MSF head of mission in South Kivu, on the multiple instances of mass rape that occurred between January 19 and 21 in South Kivu Province in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Learn more.

Women, men, and children victimized by another instance of mass rape in eastern DRC

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has provided specialized care to 53 women, men, and children who were raped in a series of incidents that occurred between January 19 and 21 in South Kivu Province in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Most of the rape survivors MSF treated yesterday said they were ambushed on January 19 around the village of Nakatete, as they returned from market. They told MSF they had been held hostage throughout the day, raped multiple times, and subjected to further degrading treatment. Patients ranged in age from 13 to 60. Women and girls had been separated from men and their clothes and belongings were stolen.

These new incidents of large scale rape come a few weeks after a mass rape on New Year’s Day in the Fizi region of South Kivu.

For years, civilians in eastern DRC have suffered sexual violence related to ongoing conflict. But MSF has not provided medical treatment for rape on this scale in South Kivu since 2004. In an already volatile context, MSF is witnessing a further deterioration of the situation, which is directly impacting the civilian population.

Learn more: DRC: Civilians Increasingly Targeted by Violence and Insecurity in East

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Treating survivors of domestic and sexual violence in PNG - MSF Weekly Podcast

In Papua New Guinea, 70 percent of women say they’ve been physically abused by their husbands, and in some parts of the country that number reaches 100 percent, according to the PNG Law Reform Commission. When this kind of violence is so widespread, what kind of a difference can a small MSF project make?

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