Synergy of Women for the Victims of Sexual Violence

Synergy of Women for the Victims of Sexual Violence

Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelles (SVFS, Synergy of Women for Sexual Violence Victims) is a coalition that brings together 35 local organizations working with survivors of rape and sexual violence in North Kivu to increase the quality and access of support for survivors and to restore victims to a healthy, respectful state.

Reaching rural areas throughout North Kivu through its member organizations, SFVS work to lobby for equitable justice, coordinate legal assistance for victims of violence, provide psychosocial support for survivors of gender-based violence, coordinate medical support for survivors, and provide economic assistance for survivors to allow them to fully re-engage in their communities.

Justine Masika Bihamba is the coordinator and one of the founders of SFVS and is a prominent activist against sexual violence in the DRC.  In 2008, Justine won the Dutch Human Rights Tulip Award for her work. Justine was invited to join a roundtable discussion with Secretary Hillary Clinton in August 2009 to share her experiences working as a community leader on gender-based violence issues.

Currently SFVS is working on an advocacy campaign focused creating mixed tribunals of international and Congolese judges to try high-ranking military offenders of sexual violence and war crimes in Congo. In 2009, SFVS assisted more than 2,200 survivors with legal, medical, and economic assistance.

In 2010, SVFS received $50,000 to fund a public education campaign reaching 5,000 residents in North Kivu, addressing human and civil rights included in the 2006 constitution, train 20 judges on sexual violence law, and provide legal assistance to survivors of gender-based violence in 50 local and national cases.

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