I have been reviewing the interviews and data from our work in Bukavu and Goma, DRC. As I have been thinking about next steps for collaborations with Congolese partners – I started to think about Major Honorine, she is the policewoman in charge of the Child Protection Unit in Bukavu, DRC. The unit (which is Major Honorine) was formed in 1996 as a response to the impact of the war on child health and rights. As the rapes against women and girls continue the mission of the unit is to arrest the perpetrators of violence, assist victims through referral to health care, documentation of violence, and referral and follow-up with criminal justice system.
Major Honorine is committed to her work, she has been featured in Lisa Jackson’s documentary, The Greatest Silence, and testified to the Congolese parliament on December 11, 2008 about rape in Eastern DRC and the need for policy and financial support. Even with her exposure internationally and plea for support to her own leaders and international NGOs, she still has no means of transportation to reach women who have been raped, or to help them get to the health care center. Raped women often need to provide the money to pay for the paper for the Major to take the rape report. Major Honorine calls for the ambulance at Panzi Hospital to take the victim, but the ambulance rarely comes. Major Honorine – has no recorder or even a camera to take pictures of the injuries for the legal case. The raped women have to pay for their health care ($25), their transportation to the police, health care center or lawyer, and then they need to pay the lawyer to take the case. When there is no functioning government in the area – there is no financial support for victims of crimes. The majority of women give up, they just do not have the resources to pursue the perpetrators.
Major Honorine makes $25 a month as a Major in the Police. She has taken two raped women and their children into her home and paid for the children’s schools because their young mothers had no support. I asked her why with all the publicity and all the NGOs working in Bukavu, she had not received any of the resources she has asked for to do her job – her only comment – the money rarely flows to those who need it.
I asked Major Honorine what she would do if she had funds, she laid out her plan:
1. Develop a system of communication and transportation for victims from villages to needed support systems (police, health care, legal)
2. Develop a system of communication and collaboration between all the needed support system (health care, police, legal, family)
3. Obtain appropriate tools for documentation of the rape (recorders, paper, pens, cameras)
4. Computer to develop database to track cases and write reports and proposals for funding
5. Support economic reintegration of rape survivors into their family and villages (microfinance)
We could easily support this work – here at the School of Nursing, we have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners that could work closely with Major Honorine to implement the health care and legal documentation component of the project. For not a lot of money, we could train the nurses in the villages and nurse and physicians at the local reference hospitals to complete the physical exam, provide post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and document the case. Certainly, I can provide a tape recorder, paper, pen, and camera to help the Major do her work. Even a computer – not that hard. We can also connect this work to our Pigs for Peace program – helping women rebuild their economic resource through animal husbandry. The only difficult and big expense – transportation – the Major needs a 4X4 to get out to the villages to the victims – what about one 4X4 that Major Honorine can share with Rama Levina Foundation – the Foundation needs transportation (they rent a 4X4 now)to go out to the villages to provide health care for rape survivors. Collaboration and sharing resources is critical to the success and sustainability of this work – so, if we could get $100,000 of Secretary Clinton’s 17 million pledged – I bet the Rama Levinia Foundation and Major Honorine would be able to demonstrate impact in one year –rape survivors getting access to appropriate and timely health care, rape case being documented and brought forward to justice and rape survivors having access to economic empowerment through Pigs for Peace – that would be real impact.