Presentations and Publications

The School has participated in the research presented in the following publications

Annemiek Richters (2011)

Oorlogsgeweld tegen vrouwen: Gevolgen, overlevingskracht en solidariteit. Annie-Romein Verschoor lezing door Annemiek Richters ter gelegenheid van 100 jaar internationale vrouwendag. 10 March 2011. Universiteit Leiden, Tekst lezing integraal opgenomen website Universiteit Leiden.

Annemiek Richters (2011)

Verkrachte vrouwen de ‘levende doden’ van de oorlog. Reformatorisch Dagblad 13-03-2011. Verkorte versie van Annie Romein Verschoor lezing.

Helen Liebling and Henny Slegh (2011)

“‘I became a woman with a bad reputation in my society’: Gendered responses to women and girl’s bearing a child from rape in eastern Congo”, African Journal of Traumatic Stress 2(2):60-71.


Whilst rape as a ‘weapon of war’ is now considered as a war crime, the national and international service responses for women and girls rape survivors bearing children in eastern Congo is extremely limited.

Our research examined women and girl’s experiences and the stigma associated with bearing children from rape as well as the health and justice responses. A total of seventy-six women survivors were interviewed. Each narrated their experiences of rape and bearing a child as well as the service responses. Thirty semi-structured interviews were also carried out with police, legal and health officials and non-state providers. The findings were triangulated in discussion with key informants and survivors.

Despite the ‘apparent’ end of the conflict, sexual violence continues at very high levels in Eastern Congo. Young women described rape and gang rape by military personnel, rebels and soldiers, some of whom had weapons, but the majority were raped by civilians, community and family members. High levels of traumatic effects including stigma and shame, as related to unequal gender attitudes, were exacerbated by the complex emotion of bearing a child and social rejection by families, husbands and communities. The ineffective justice responses and lack of health care exacerbates women’s perceptions of having little value in society.

In this paper we discuss how weak governance and the lack of appropriate health and justice services for survivors, exacerbates gender inequalities and seriously endangers their lives. We argue that in the context of a fragile state, the priority responses should focus on the health and psychosocial needs of survivors and their children as a form of restorative justice by tackling social rejection and promoting gender equality as well as family and community support that restores solidarity amongst communities.

Keywords: child, conflict, Congo, gender, girls, health, justice, police, rape, women

Helen Liebling, Henny Slegh, Benoit Ruratotoye (2012)

"Women and girls bearing children through rape in Goma, Eastern Congo: Stigma, health and justice responses”, Itupale Online Journal of African Studies 4:18-44.


Women and girls bearing children from rape is a poorly understood subject area in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is essential to understand the underlying causes and consequences of sexual violence, and their impact on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This article reports on British Academy funded research that examined the impact of bearing a child from rape, and the related health and justice responses. Individual interviews, focus groups and workshops with women, girls and health and justice service providers identified the social, health and psychological consequences of rape and bearing children. Our findings show the negative impact that rape and bearing a child has on Congolese society, and how this impedes the successful achievement of key MDGs. The current research should stimulate debate, and provide a useful resource for policy and service reviews.

Key words: women; children; congo; girls; rape; stigma, health, MDGs


Helen Liebling, Henny Slegh, Benoit Ruratotoye (2012)

Bearing children through rape in eastern Congo: Community and state responses: Executive summary

Research report December 2012

Gender relations, sexual violence and the effects of conflict on women and men in North Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Preliminary results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES).

The initial findings from the survey reveal that sexual violence is more than just a weapon of war in the DRC. It is just as prevalent in homes as it is in conflict in North Kivu.