Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Fact Sheet


Since 2002, the United States Government has been a major donor in the response to and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Deep-seated gender discrimination, harmful cultural practices, and the low social status of women and girls in the DRC contribute to high rates of SGBV. Furthermore, continued population displacement, insecurity, and conflict in eastern DRC perpetuate the cycle of violence against women and girls, although most perpetrators are community members not associated with armed groups.

Despite a 2006 Congolese law against SGBV, many cases of sexual violence are neither reported to local authorities nor investigated. Factors contributing to this lack of prosecution include fear of stigma and abandonment, weak law enforcement, and poor judicial infrastructure. In 2013, USAID helped to fund the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), a nationwide survey which sampled 18,000 households from all provinces of the DRC. The DHS found that more than one in four women in the DRC (27 percent) experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives and 57 percent suffered physical or sexual violence.


USAID provides a holistic set of essential services to more than 100,000 SGBV survivors, including access to medical care, psychosocial support, economic reintegration, vocational and literacy training, income generating activities, fighting impunity for perpetrators through support for legal reform, and strengthening of civilian and military judicial systems. Community awareness activities and information campaigns use various communication approaches to promote women’s rights, acceptance of rape survivors, and equity for women.

USAID’s 2015-2019 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) integrates activities to counter SGBV into health and education programs, with a focus on changing entrenched gender inequality nationwide and expanding access to services. Under this strategy, USAID provides emergency and long-term programming to SGBV survivors while simultaneously strengthening the capacity of Congolese institutions to assume responsibility for addressing SGBV in the future.

Since 2001, USAID/OFDA has incorporated treatment for SGBV survivors into its emergency health programs. OFDA provides services in 141 health centers within conflict-affected health zones of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale. These programs deliver clinical management and treatment of SGBV cases, training for health staff on medical management of SGBV, and provision of psychosocial care to survivors in conflict-affected zones of North Kivu and Orientale provinces. USAID provides first line treatment at local clinics and referrals to larger hospitals, when necessary, for complications such as fistula.

Referred patients are provided transport and are accompanied to the facility. USAID programs also sensitize communities on SGBV in health service catchment areas.

The Department of State has taken an active role in addressing SGBV in the DRC through a variety of programs funded by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), the Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Bureau of African Affairs (AF), the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (S/GAC), and the Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI). Additionally, Embassy Kinshasa’s Democracy and Human Rights Fund gives small grants on an annual basis to local organizations that provide economic and legal support to SGBV survivors. The Embassy’s Public Affairs Section also sponsors SGBV-focused activities. 


  • Over 9,000 survivors of violent trauma -- mostly women – received medical and psychosocial treatment, life skills training, and in some cases legal support.
  • SGBV prevention messaging provided to over 2.3 million people.
  • 22,544 survivors of GBV and other vulnerable individuals, including 15,544 women (69 percent), participated in economic programming to improve their economic prospects.
  • 1,100 local organizations serving vulnerable populations strengthened.
  • 3,811 service providers trained.


USHINDI – Overcoming Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Eastern Congo

IMA World Health

Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead through Education (EAGLE)

FHI 360

Fistula Care Plus

Engender Health

Integrated Health Project + (IHP/PROSANI)

Management Sciences for Health (MSH)


Supporting Medical, Legal and Law Enforcement Professionals in Central and East Africa

Physicians for Human Rights

Combating Sexual Violence in North Kivu and Kasai Oriental

American Bar Association (ABA)                                                                                                                                 

Police Professionalization Project


Accountability Initiative