Surviving sexual violence in Democratic Republic of Congo: Victims twice over

DRC 2021 © Pablo Garrigos

In this short documentary, survivors of sexual violence in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) share their stories about the twin impacts of rape and assault.

These survivors suffer from physical and psychological wounds, as well as the social and economic impacts of being cast out of their homes and communities. Many women who have been attacked find themselves rejected by their loved ones instead of being supported after a traumatizing experience. The effects of social and familial exclusion combined with the loss of subsistence can lead some survivors into a downward spiral.

"I didn’t keep it a secret from my husband because I hadn’t committed adultery,” said one woman. "In the end, he threw me out of the house and took the children. I was homeless. I didn’t know what to do.”

Sexual violence is a major emergency throughout DRC, in areas affected by armed clashes and in relatively stable areas. MSF both provides and advocates for victims to receive free, high-quality, emergency medical care within 72 hours to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Survivors need treatment for both physical and psychological trauma. We are also calling for greater national and international support for survivors to receive essential legal and socioeconomic assistance.