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September 14, 2017

Fighting Impunity for Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

An imperfect system failed a rape survivor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—with ABA ROLI’s help, she is now becoming a powerful agent of change to bring justice to others.

Eve* was 13 years old when her father first raped her. After years of abuse and with the support of a sympathetic teacher, Eve tried to bring charges against him, but like so many survivors in DRC, she could not afford to pursue the case.

Since 2008, ABA ROLI lawyers have provided free legal aid to DRC citizens fighting impunity of perpetrators of sexual violence. A judge recommended Eve contact ABA ROLI, which enabled her to stand in court and tell her story. In the end it was not enough. As is the case for many rape defendants in DRC, Eve’s father was acquitted after paying bribes, and Eve has feared for her safety ever since.

Eve remains hopeful that one day her father and others like him will

be brought to justice. After receiving the assistance of ABA ROLI, she aspires to become a lawyer and help women and girls overcome similar situations.

“My message to all the girls out there is to endeavor to be strong and have the courage to remove themselves from situations that make them victims. I urge all girls and women to report any cases of sexual violence and to be brave enough to pursue justice to the end.”

Eve currently attends law school in DRC, after receiving a scholarship from ABA ROLI and philanthropic partner organization, Cynthia’s Sisters.

“I honestly didn’t expect it. I think of all the ways ABA ROLI has helped me, this scholarship has been the most important. It gave me so much hope, not only for me but also for other girls and women in similar situations.”

Justice may not have been served, but by sharing her story and training to become a lawyer and advocate on behalf of other rape survivors, Eve will be in a position to help other women attain the justice they deserve.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual and all quotations have been translated from French.

To learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected]