Canadian delegation with Héritiers de la justice
Between June 16-30, 2013 Sister Danielle Dubuc, Alternate National VP for PSAC and VP for the Workers of Colour on the CLC Council.joined the KAIROS’ Women of Courage delegation to areas of the Congo where gender-based violence is prevalent. Sister Dubuc and other members of the delegation witnessed the transformative work being carried out by Heirs of Justice and its Legal Clinic. By accompanying, training and supporting survivors of sexual violence, HJ assists women to be fully reintegrated into their families and communities. This work is funded in part by KAIROS and by the PSAC Social Justice Fund.
Danielle Dubuc with Chantal Bilulu, Director of Women and Children’s program, HJ
HJ carries out prevention education and paralegal work in the communities and local schools. It organizes groups of women to share their experience, and recruits them to become spokespersons in the community. It also trains women as paralegals in order to take cases forward within the judicial systems. HR is bringing big progressive changes in society against gender violence.
The Women of Courage delegation travelled extensively in the region, visiting with high level government officials across the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. The delegation also met national church leaders, civil society organizations and NGOs who are training women to address issues of poverty, violence and gender equality and mentoring women to become a factor for change.
Danielle Dubuc: “I want to share the story of Eliza, a woman who greatly inspired our delegation. One night, the military barged into her home and asked for food. Her husband refused. To teach him a lesson, they tied him up, killed her two sons and raped Eliza. Then they killed her husband. One of her daughters found her, and went to seek help from Héritiers de la Justice. She was taken to the Panzi hospital, known worldwide for the treatment of survivors of sexual violence.
Eliza survived and has become an advocate for justice. She is a compelling spokesperson for HJ and works helping other women. “
Héritiers de la Justice faces many challenges: The size of the province of South Kivu, the lack of accessible public education and the lack of funding to bring cases to justice, and to carry out prevention in the communities. The case of children, born from acts of rape and then abandoned in the forests to fend for themselves, is one of the situations that upset me the most.
Despite its rich mineral potential, the DR Congo has failed to translate its wealth into positive development. Foreign mining companies operating in the DR Congo are not doing enough to respect human rights and sharing the benefits with the local population. Over 70% of the mining companies there are Canadian, so I believe that Canada can do more to create mechanisms to hold companies accountable.
For that reason, KAIROS brought a message of hope to Parliament Hill on December 5, 2013, when members of the Women of Courage delegation met with Parliamentarians to discuss the actions Canada can take to help build peace and stability in this troubled region.”