IMAGES report on men, masculinities and GBV in Eastern DRC reveals alarming attitudes about rape amongst many men
In June 2012, Sonke Gender Justice, Promundo-US and the Institute for Mental Health of Goma implemented the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) in Goma, North Kivu, DRC.
A total of 708 men and 754 women between the ages of 18-59 were interviewed in: (1) rural areas outside Goma; (2) Goma proper; (3) an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp; and (4) a military base near Goma (with officers, enlisted men and wives of military personnel). Qualitative research consisted of eight focus group discussions (four with men and four with women with a total of 40 men and 51 women) and 24 in-depth individual interviews (10 with men, 14 with women).1
While many studies and efforts have been carried out to empower women and assist them in recovering from rape, fewer have examined the impact of disempowerment on men and on how gender relations are affected by conflict. Moreover, several studies recommend the need to include men and boys in initiatives to promote gender equality and end SGBV in the DRC.
This study seeks to provide a nuanced understanding of how gendered relations are affected by conflict and in turn inform the urgent need for social development, humanitarian and human rights responses. It is part of efforts by Promundo and the Sonke Gender Justice to engage men – alongside women – as change agents and activists in ending impunity around SGBV and promoting gender justice and social justice.
The findings are quite alarming – across many different issues:
Men report high levels of rape perpetration, inequitable attitudes about gender and high acceptance of rape myths. Fully 37% of men surveyed reported having raped a woman. The survey results reveal that a majority of men surveyed continue to hold attitudes and beliefs about gender that directly contribute to high levels of sexual violence. For instance, nearly a third of men believed that women sometimes want to be raped and that when a woman is raped she may enjoy it. Nearly half of all men surveyed think that if a woman doesn’t physically resist when forced to have sex that it is not rape, and, disturbingly, given the very high levels of rape in war, nearly half of all men surveyed said that men should reject his wife if she has been raped.2
48% of men report ever carrying out any form of physical violence (GBV) against a female partner, while 53% of women report ever having experienced GBV (from a male partner). Among men who were forced to leave their home during the conflict, 50% report perpetrating GBV. Among men who were not forced to leave their home 37.3% reported perpetrating GBV; this difference was statistically significant at p=.027.
While sexual violence during conflict has received far more attention, than sexual violence outside conflict, the survey confirms high degrees of rape-supportive attitudes among men, affirming in many ways the perceived normality of rape, as seen in Table 14.
Table 14: Men’s opinions about rape
|% who agree|
|A woman who is raped has provoked this by her own attitude||31.7|
|Sometimes, women want to be raped||27.9|
|A man can force a woman to have sex and she may enjoy it||27.3|
|When a woman does not show physical resistance when she is forced to have sex, you cannot speak of rape||42.7|
|A men should reject his wife when she has been raped||43.4|
|A woman who does not dress decently is asking to be raped||74.8|
|Women deserve some times to be beaten||61.4|
|Women should accept partner violence to keep the family together||64.9|
Similarly, in qualitative interviews, men openly shared their opinions about the “right to have sex” with their female partner even if she refuses; most men did not consider it to be rape to force their wives to have sex with them. Other men took any “provocation” by a woman to mean that she wanted sex. One man (age 58) related the account of a young girl (under age 18) who entered his shop and asked for water. He said that her voice provoked him:
“When a girl is asking for water I such a way, she wants sex. So I took her in the middle of my shop, I think she liked it, because her body accepted me to enter.”
At least half of the population lives below the absolute poverty line (less than one US dollar per day). Men and women in military camps had the highest income, followed by those living in Goma city, then rural-based, and, last, those in the IDP camp. The high number of missing cases suggests the large number of respondents who have no monetary income.
Hunger is an all too common daily reality for respondents. 40% of men and 43% of women have only one meal a day, while 12% of women and 11% men have only one meal every two days. As in the case of income, respondents from the military base had the highest rate of having daily meals while residents in IDP camps had the lowest rates.
Men’s Reports of Economic Stress
- 72% ashamed to face their family because out of work
- 75% ashamed to face family because can’t provide basic financial needs
- 74% spend most of their time looking for work
- 53% have considered leaving their family because of lack of income
- 46% sometimes drink or stay away from home because they can’t find work
- 78% are frequently stressed or depressed because does not have not have work
- 89% of men reported at least one form of work-related stress
- The principal investigator was Henny Slegh, Regional Coordinator, Great Lakes Region, Promundo, with additional coordination provided by Gary Barker of Promundo and Tim Shand of Sonke. Benoit Ruratotoye, of the Goma Institute for Mental Health and consultant to Promundo, provided research assistance. Marci Eads provided assistance in data analysis. Henny Slegh and Gary Barker are the main authors of this report. Funding for the study was provided by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
- Slegh, H., Barker, G., Ruratotoye, B. & Shand, T. (2012). Gender Relations, Sexual Violence and the Effects of Conflict on Women and Men in North Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Preliminary Results of the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). Sonke Gender Justice and Promundo-US: Cape Town, South Africa, and Washington, DC.