A Qualitative Analysis of Disclosure Patterns among Women with Sexual Violence-Related Pregnancies in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has experienced nearly two decades of civil conflict in the Eastern regions of North and South Kivu. This conflict has been notorious for the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, leading in many cases to pregnancy after rape. The objectives of this analysis were: 1) to describe patterns of sexual violence-related pregnancy (SVRP) disclosure; 2) to consider why survivors chose to disclose to particular individuals; and 3) to examine the dialogue around SVRPs between women with SVRPs and their confidants. In South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, two sub-groups of sexual violence survivors completed qualitative interviews, those currently raising a child from an SVRP (parenting group, N = 38) and those who had terminated an SVRP (termination group, N = 17). The findings show that a majority of SVRPs were conceived when participants were held in sexual captivity for prolonged periods of time. The SVRPs were disclosed to friends, family members, other sexual violence survivors, community members, spouses, health care providers, or perpetrators. The confidants were most often chosen because they were perceived by the participants as being discreet, trusted, and supportive. The confidants often provided advice about continuing or terminating the SVRP. Trust and discretion are the most important factors determining to whom women with SVRPs disclose their pregnancies. The vital role of confidants in giving support after disclosure cannot be overlooked. Providing opportunities for survivors to safely disclose their SVRPs, including to health care providers, is a necessary first step in allowing them to access safe and comprehensive post-assault care and services

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oaioai:dash.harvard.edu:1/29408424Last time updated on 4/17/2018

This paper was published in Harvard University - DASH .

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