Nurses brutally raped while on duty

In a horrifying attack on a Kinshasa hospital (DRC), 14 men raped two young nurses on night duty in front of their patients. They also stole valuable hospital equipment and patients and staff belongings. PSI affiliate SOLSICO is calling a 3-day strike in solidarity with their members. PSI calls for immediate ratification of Convention C190.

PSI is distraught to learn of, and strongly condemns the brutal attack that took place at the Revolution Health Centre in Kinshasa on the night of the 10 September 2020. We have been informed of the theft of valuables of staff and patients, and the brutal rape of two women nurses, one of whom is hospitalised, such that she cannot stand or walk.

The nurses union, PSI affiliate SOLSICO, has denounced this act of violence and is calling for a country wide strike in solidarity, from 21-23 September. In a strongly worded letter to the Public Health Minister, Mr Eteni Longondo, PSI calls for immediate action to put in place mechanisms to ensure that such an incident never occurs again.

Gender Based Violence in the DRC is at very high levels, and many women suffer from the lifelong consequences of such violence. For women nurses to suffer the most violent abuse in the workplace is unacceptable and calls for immediate action to put in mechanisms to ensure that such an incident never occurs again.

Such an attack demands the most urgent response to ensure a clear message that it is unacceptable and deserving of the full attention of law enforcement. There must be urgent and swift action to find all perpetrators, and to ensure a speedy trial and outcome.

Workplace health and safety is the responsibility of the employers and law enforcement agencies must provide immediate and urgent support to collectively work together to address the root causes of such violence.

But furthermore, there is an urgent responsibility to provide long term support to the women who suffered this violence. This includes access to healthcare, psychosocial support and economic support.

We therefore demand:

  1. The DRC review its laws on workplace health and safety, including gender-based violence, in line with the ILO Convention 190 on Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.

  2. The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo ratifies Convention 190.

  3. Swift action is taken to hold all perpetrators accountable.

  4. Justice is achieved for the nurses who were raped, and for all who were robbed.

  5. Increased security of health facilities in the DRC.

  6. Demands the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to ensure respect for human rights to prevent such acts from happening again.

We hope these demands will be met to stop further attacks on our members and other care providers in the country. We look forward to further engagement through our affiliate SOLSICO.

PSI Africa & Arab countries has written to SOLSICO extending its compassion and solidarity to the victims and their families. In a statement on the attack, PSI Africa & Arab countries calls on all affiliates to continue to share all information on the violation of all workers' human and trade union rights in order to enable it to better defend and safeguard them at the global level.

Finally, PSI calls on all its affiliates to show their solidarity with comrades who are victims of this crime.