Violence occurs in cycles. After individuals are victimized, survivors and witnesses of violence may be at a greater risk of perpetrating later in life. The evidence is clear: In order to break the cycle, we need to engage men and boys.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the DRC, which has seen unimaginable violence. Among war and the displacement of entire populations, the brutality and prevalence of sexual violence have earned eastern DRC the title, ‘capital of rape.’
Aloys Mahwa, Country Director of Living Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is working to change that narrative. Born and raised in Bukavu, DRC, Aloys traveled to Paris to continue his education. After receiving his masters, Aloys was called back to eastern DRC to heal and rebuild the country of his birth. Working with 900 men as peace ambassadors, he is helping entire communities heal from trauma.
“This change has a tremendous impact on families first and the community after. Men reduce their use of violence against their spouses; children live in harmonized families where dialogue and communication are important to resolve family problems. Some of them have seen their social capital increase and continue the process of living peace by creating additional Living Peace groups in their communities,” says Aloys.
In these communities, men are resolving problems through dialogue and communication rather than turning to violence and abuse of alcohol. However, Aloys stresses the importance of scaling up mental health services for sustained change:
“The lack of mental health professionals has left mental health problems without solution. In contexts where sexual violence is a consequence of trauma, it is important to increase the number and the capacity of mental health professionals.”
In partnership with NGOs working directly with women and girls, Living Peace is bringing men into the fold. Rather than perpetuating the problem, Aloys is inviting men to interrupt the cycle of violence and be a part of the solution to finally bring peace to the DRC.