PSVS (Programmes de Secours aux Vulnérables et Sinistrés; in English, 'Emergency Programme for Vulnerable People and Disaster Victims') works at a local level in the Uvira, Ruzizi Plain, Mboko, Baraka, and Fizi areas of South Kivu in the DR Congo which have been severely affected by conflict. Founded in 1997, the programme works on helping the most vulnerable victims of the conflict. The organisation provides a range of services ranging from the distribution of seeds and emergency materials, to seminars and training in conflict management. The programme focuses particularly on victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence, both supporting them and helping to reunite them with their families and communities through mediation.
Reintegrating Female Victims of Sexual Violence
This initiative draws attention to how the violence in East Democratic Republic of Congo has had a particularly devastating effect on women. Many women have been abducted and taken as slaves of war or as spouses of warlords and, having been raped, they are often rejected by society. This project aims to help reintegrate such women into their communities and families.
Female social workers are sent to various territories in South Kivu to approach victims of sexual abuse. The social workers conduct individual counselling sessions and identify the particular obstacles the victims face. Access to medical aid is also provided. Mediation work is then undertaken with the women’s families to address the stigma which underlies their exclusion.
The initiative has been able to successfully reunite ten women – who had previously been chased away – with their husbands. A new initiative has now been launched to help reintegrate young women under the age of 25 back into their families and schools.
One particularly moving achievement was when we organised a public demonstration about the situation and a man who had rejected his wife asked her forgiveness in front of the whole community. This is very unusual in our culture and half the village started crying.