DR Congo

Perceptions around sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and barriers to community-based reporting - Equateur Province, DRC



• The terms “sexual exploitation and abuse” have different meanings to different people and are not clearly understood by communiƟes.

• Only one (01) woman of all those interviewed in the study was aware of the existence of community-based complaints mechanisms for SEA (this woman herself worked in a humanitarian organisation).

• Women see relationships with humanitarians (sexually exploitative relationships) as an economic opportunity. If they can benefit materially from the relationship, or if their family can benefit from it, they will not be inclined to report it. Only when promises from the aid worker are not kept, did women report feeling as if the situation was exploitative, and negative.

• Shame and stigmatisation of female survivors of sexual violence, (also, but to a lesser extent sexual exploitation), is the main reason why women refuse to report.

• Women in Mbandaka and Bikoro have little confidence in the Congolese judicial system, and by extension in mechanisms designed to punish perpetrators of SEA.

• Women feel powerless to demand justice from aid workers: they see the money and status of aid workers and believe that they will not be held accountable for their actions.