The organization Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes des Violences Sexuelles-SFVS (Women’s Synergy for Victims of Sexual Violence) was formed in 2002 in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, in an effort to combat catastrophic levels of sexual and gender-based violence. In a war that has left nearly six million dead, both soldiers and armed rebels wield rape as a weapon; meanwhile, and recent studies find an increase in rapes by civilians amidst the commonplace prevalence of sexual assault. A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Public Health reported 1,100 rapes daily, making the DRC arguably the worst place in the world to be a woman.
Synergie des Femmes is a coalition of 35 Congolese women’s and human rights organizations providing medical, psycho-social, and legal aid to victims of sexual violence in war-torn North Kivu province. Beyond providing treatment and legal defense, Synergie aims to build solidarity between grassroots activists, empower Congolese women, and ultimately end the DRC’s epidemic of sexual violence.
A 2013 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network to Donor Direct Action supported Synergie’s treatment and organizing efforts, as well as the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (Somalia) and The Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (Palestine).