Since the first time she heard the testimony of a woman who was raped, Carine has used her voice to speak for the women of Congo.
Meet Carine Novi Safari, Democratic Republic of Congo
Carine works with Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI), a coalition of 40 women’s organizations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Carine is trained as a lawyer, but began focusing more directly on the needs of women and communities when she realized just how dire the situation is for women and communities in the DRC after decades of war. At SOFEPADI, she runs the communications and fundraising efforts.
SOFEPADI works to defend and protect women’s rights, while providing direct support to survivors of sexual violence. The organization also advocates for justice—including due process for perpetrators of sexual crimes.
A 2011 study found that approximately 48 women every hour were being raped across the DRC. Sexual violence is particularly widespread in eastern Congo, with government troops still battling numerous rebel groups. This is where Carine and her colleagues focus their efforts.
SOFEPADI works in the remote region of Orientale Province, managing the Karibuni Wamama Clinic in Bunia. The clinic provides essential medical and psychosocial support to survivors of sexual violence in the region. The organization also works in North Kivu, with an office in Beni.
Since October, Beni has faced a fresh spate of violent attacks from rebel groups—with rebels targeting women and children. Just last week, the US condemned the violence, including widespread rape. Over a 45-day period, the attacks on Bunia have left over 200 dead. The UN estimates that recent violence has displaced 35 thousand people in the area.
Many women walk to the SOFEPADI offices in Bunia and Beni from miles away. Once there, Carine’s colleagues document the women’s injuries, and then provide women with medical and psychosocial support. Trained lawyers also help put together cases to seek justice and reparations.
SOFEPADI’s work is quickly gaining recognition at the global level for its success in delivering holistic care to women in a country that provides no government health services to sexual violence survivors, and almost no basic reproductive health care. Carine is playing an important role in bringing sorely needed resources and support to Congolese women doing remarkable work—under difficult circumstances.
Find out more about the ways SOFEPADI is supporting survivors of sexual violence in the DRC.
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Unarmed and Dangerous, Lauren Wolfe, Foreign Policy, 7 March 2014.