Brief Note o the Focus Group Discussion on Reduction of Abortion Stigma in Goma DRCongo
Brief of the Discussion Focus Group on reduction of abortion stigma in Goma, North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo with seed grant from Abortion Conversation Projects.
We held in the focus group today February 8th, 2024 on the reduction of abortion stigma in Goma. The meeting took place in particular context of insecurity in some parts of where the rebels of M23 threatened to capture the town since yesterday Wednesday February 7th, 2024 and this pushed many people to run away up to Goma where they are living as Internally Displaced person.
We invited 25 people among them: The Mayor of Goma, the Provincial Division of Health, the Police, the Intelligence Service, Medecins Sans Frontiers, International Rescue Committee, UNFPA, 4 Civil Society Organizations, two religious leaders, 3 Health Officers and 10 victims of abortions picked from the Community.
The written invitations were delivered to each person two days before the meeting with the whole Agenda.
The Meeting started at 10am with the participation of 31 participants.
The Representative of the Mayor of Goma who opened and closed the meeting, the Representative from the Division of Health in North Kivu, the Representative from the National Agency of Intelligence, three representatives from the Civil Society, Two Health Officers, one Religious Leader, six Journalists and the victims of abortion, but also our 9 researchers.
We also regret the absence of the Police but we understand that they might have been busy in the field because of the soldiers were called in the morning for a parade and the Police was to take charge of the whole security of Goma on Thursday February 8th, 2024, we also observed the absence of international organizations, one religious leader, and one health worker, we think this might have been caused by the current security situation.
Participants introduced themselves, then a brief presentation about the survey was made by the Coordinator of COJESKI North Kivu, questions were asked and answers where shared. Mr. Kulihoshi M Pecos the Coordinator of COJESKI North Kivu shared with the participants about the objective of the Project which is create conversations on abortion stigma in Goma, and that the Project is not an advocacy initiative but an opportunity for people to discuss on what matters to them. Findings were shared and in the process it was a consensus that abortion and stigmatization are problems people are facing in Goma.
Some questions focused on advocacy about the change of policies to which the answer was first of all to share clear information about the policies, and more questions where about the statistics and why the areas which the survey focused on.
Three focus groups where put in place to different topics, the first Group discussed on the causes of stigmatization, the second group focused on the legal regime in place about abortion in DRC and the last group focus beliefs and customs. Each group had 35 minutes to interact and came up with a presentation and recommendations.
A full report will be made available soon on what was suggested, however both the Representative of the Mayor and of the Division of Health made their concluding remarks by making strong recommendations to focus on collecting necessary information on the whole legal background and the necessary policies, training government officers, and awareness sessions in various communities.
The representative from the Intelligence Services noted that this debate delayed and that has caused so many consequences, and regretted that we cannot generate funds ourselves in order to engage on various activities.
The session ended by a group photo and snacks and then transport refund.
We are so proud that we are the very first local Civil Society Initiative in North Kivu to engage on the issues around abortion, and we were pleased by the encouragement and recommendations from the audience where sensitization was one among the key suggestions.
We believe that the donor mainly Abortion Conversation Projects will pick interests in this and move forward with this project. We are so much motivated with the responses from the population and we shall continue with this project.
Kulihoshi Musikami Pecos