Dramatized Case Helps Humanize Sexual Assault Victims as Part of Awareness Campaign in the DRC

May 2012

“Why Fiston?! Why are you trying to hurt her? She is just a little girl! Did you know that violence, brutality and assault against women are prohibited and punishable by law? It can also be considered attempted rape. You should know that children and women are protected by law and that you can go to prison for that!”

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Radio broadcast of the ABA ROLI-produced drama has generated a great deal of interest, with teachers and students discussing sexual violence in schools.

This dialogue is spoken during a 15-minute vignette produced by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) as part of a public awareness campaign designed to reach youth in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s South Kivu Province. The drama tells the story of a young girl who is a victim of sexual assault, with the aim of personalizing such crimes and encouraging youth to understand the broad and lasting impact of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

The SGBV-related drama is broadcast on partner radio stations throughout South Kivu, particularly those serving remote areas. After the fictionalized case is played, radio announcers invite the listening audience—particularly young people and their parents—to step into the shoes of the victim and to imagine they are her family, members of her community, responding police officers and presiding judges over the case. Once listeners have offered their perspectives, an ABA ROLI lawyer provides a brief legal analysis of the fictionalized case in accordance with Congolese law and details what steps should be taken if rape occurs in their community. Local partners, including representatives from Congolese human rights associations, are on hand to inform listeners about their services and available resources.

Before launching the campaign, ABA ROLI organized trainings for announcers at partner radio stations. During the workshops, participants discussed the role of the media in encouraging greater respect for women and in helping to frame the community’s understanding of SGBV. Thus far, there has been a great deal of interest in the shows, with teachers and students discussing sexual violence in schools. The shows’ success can be credited both to their open discussion format and to their ability to reach remote rural areas.

To date, ABA ROLI’s awareness campaign, in partnership with four local radio stations—Radio Mitumba, Radio Obuguma, Radio Star and Iriba FM —has reached more than one million listeners across the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

To learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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