This 30-page evaluation report shares experiences and lessons learned by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) in using mobile cinema and radio programming to provide a space for discussion, as well as raise awareness and strengthen prevention, around gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to the report, years of conflict in the DRC have given rise to misogynistic attitudes that have made the country one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, with high levels of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Focus group discussions and listener feedback showed that mobile cinema screening and radio programming implemented by SFCG has helped to initiate a free and open forum for dialogue around SGBV. According to the report, when positive and respectful attitudes towards women were given voice, they overpowered negative and aggressive points of view.
The mobile cinema activity (see video, below) involved screening films on SGBV in rural areas of the DRC where film and television are not readily available. These screenings are a major spectacle and draw large crowds. After the screenings, discussions are held on issues related to SGBV. By the end of the project, 41 public screenings were organised for people returning to DRC and community members in 4 out of the 6 territories in North Kivu, as well as in South Kivu. A total of 32,460 participants - 17,500 from North Kivu and 14,960 from South Kivu - viewed the film. Sub-film activities are held for various key groups such as local authorities, police officers, soldiers, couples, and youth. SFCG also used radio programming to expand the reach of sensitisation activities and to further efforts to foster dialogue. This included a 20-minute radio magazine programme, which is based on interviews and in-field roundtable discussions with 15- to 25-year-old boys and girls.
Pre- and post-survey results show that, after the mobile cinema was screened, individuals had greater knowledge and information related to SGBV. Some of the key findings include:
- Participants are better informed about SGBV laws. 94% of Congolese at post survey know the maximum penalty for rape in the DRC (a 66% increase from the pre-test results). The percentage of respondents who believe that a rape settlement out of court is legally binding is lower after the activities, decreasing from 39% to 28%.
- Participants are more likely to recognise that rape is not only perpetrated by foreign armed groups, but also by civilians and armed forces. Results from the post test show that 82% of Congolese surveyed recognise that rape is committed by both Congolese and foreign armed groups, and 96% recognise that civilians as well as armed men commit rape.
- Participants are more likely to recognise that rape affects the entire community and that the entire community should fight against SGBV. 94% of attendees believe that rape affects not only the victim but also the entire community (a 67% increase from the pre-test results). 71% of women and 68% of men surveyed during the post test respond that the entire community is responsible for fighting against SGBV.
- Participants are less likely to believe that a victim of SGBV should keep silent. 93% of those surveyed believe that a victim of rape should speak out.
The radio programme, Uishi na Upende, was also well received by the intended groups and was considered highly relevant among those surveyed in terms of addressing topics related to youth, relationships, and sexuality. 88% of Congolese adolescents in the focus groups stated that the radio programme reflects the realities of their daily lives. Some of the key findings related to the radio programme include:
- Radio listeners are more likely to believe in gender equality and human rights. Listeners were far more likely than non-listeners to affirm that girls should have the same rights as boys in determining the nature of their relationships or friendships with the opposite sex. 34% of non-listeners as opposed to 52% of listeners feel this way.
- The radio programme encouraged dialogue on healthy relationships. After listening to Uishi na Upende, far fewer survey respondents still believe that it is "bad" to discuss male-female relationships. Over half of the non-listeners surveyed feel that this is the case, compared with less than a quarter of listeners.
- Radio listeners are less likely to blame the victims of rape. Focus groups show that some episodes addressing issues related to discrimination against women were particularly powerful in provoking reactions on these issues, with listeners condemning the perpetrators and supporting the victims. Over two-thirds of listeners state that the primary theme that they had listened to relates to the myth that women are raped because they wear provocative clothing.
The evaluation concludes that findings from the surveys, pre- and post-tests, focus group discussions, and listener feedback show that the sensitisation strategy of SFCG was very successful. The mobile cinema activity and Uishe na Upende radio programme raised knowledge and changed attitudes on issues related to SGBV. Young people and adults have expressed their appreciation of the programme, stating that it deals with issues that they regularly face, provides a space for dialogue on important topics, and empowers young women. Furthermore, survey results showed that Uishi na Upende listeners were better informed than non-listeners, validating and reinforcing the statements made during focus groups and received as feedback.
However, despite the progress achieved via this project, the report mentions that more needs to be done to prevent SGBV. For instance, the number of women who felt that the entire community was responsible for the fight against SGBV increased from 44% to 71% after participating in a mobile cinema activity. Although this is a very positive result, nearly one-third of the women polled still held the same negative views. Therefore, while the project has been effective in changing attitudes and behaviours, there is still more to be done. Initiating a healthy dialogue around this issue is a necessary step towards tackling the problem. Young people, who are often marginalised and have grown up in the midst of numerous conflicts, need to be sensitised. Otherwise, there is a danger that SGBV will become the norm for a new generation of Congolese citizens.
SFCG website on June 9 2012; and email from Mike Jobbins to The Communication Initiative on May 6 2013.