U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Busby visited IMA World Health’s office in Goma, DRC, on June 20, 2019, to understand first-hand the efforts to prevent sexual and gender-based violence in the country and support survivors. Years of insecurity and conflict, along with deeply rooted gender inequities and harmful cultural practices, have contributed to high rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
IMA and our partners have supported more than 35,000 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC since 2009 through USAID-funded projects (Ushindi and Tushinde Ujeuri). This comprehensive effort provides psychosocial support, medical services for post-HIV and sexually transmitted infection exposure, legal services, and livelihoods support to help survivors reintegrate into their communities. It also promotes gender equity and works to change cultural norms that perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence.
During his visit, Secretary Busby solicited recommendations from the IMA team on how the federal government could push for solutions to sexual and gender-based violence at the policy level. The IMA team discussed the impact of human trafficking, armed conflict and poor enforcement of existing laws and policies on the prevalence of sexual violence.
Secretary Busby and his delegation toured a facility for women who need medical services as a result of sexual violence. Operated by our partner HEAL Africa, the facility also includes an obstetric fistula surgery unit, a school for the children of the women recovering at the facility, and a skills training center where women are taught sewing skills to make handicrafts or clothing.