Ayala, Erica


When searching through vast amounts of NGO’s online, I noticed very many of them were geared towards a similar issue. I found that the majority stood up for sexual violence against women and were vessels that promoted healthier living spaces for women who have endured any abuse. In areas all over the world there are women who have been victims of sexual violence such as rape, battery, sex slavery and genital mutilation. It is predicted that one in three women in the world have experienced some form of sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. One NGO in particular is referred to as the City of Joy, which is in partnership with an international campaign, V-day, centralized in Bukavu, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The DRC began seeing an influx of sexual violence after the Rwandan Genocides in the mid-1990s when militia men began fleeing to the Congo and used sexual violence as a form of torture. Just recently in 2008, rape became a weapon of war in the DRC, thus the increase in sexual abuse to women. This violence not only harms and ruins the lives of individuals but can spread as far as an entire community creating inabilities or dangers in procreating. Many of the women fell victim to the violence that was not their violence to endure. They were stigmatized and usually rejected from their communities with no where to go and to sit in shame of something outside of their control. The City of Joy was created to help take in these women suffering from an unruly fate.

The City of Joy is not like other NGO’s. The City of Joy is a community where survivors of sexual violence live together and help each other and themselves to recover and create better futures. It’s also different in that it doesn’t see the women that they are helping as victims, but as survivors. These survivors come together to live in a community and thrive as they lead a community of powerful women to recover and be empowering to others who are affected. In this community of about 90 each year, the women uniquely find their value in society and understand their right to be treated with respect, compassion, and dignity. Although sexual violence has not ended in the Congo, there have been many steps towards providing safer as well as more positive environments for women who survive this damaging act of violence.