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Educational Film project for Military in Congo

Educating Congolese soldiers on sexual violence
Since 2008 IFPRODUCTIONS is, together with WHYZE, developing an ambitious yet highly relevant educational project for Congo’s national army (FARDC).

Within the FARDC many soldiers and reintegrated ex-rebels have committed rape-related crimes. At the same time, training on conduct and ethics is limited to initiatives that insufficiently touch upon sexual violence and make use of traditional pedagogic tools that are little effective for illiterate soldiers. In order to be able to stop violence against women it is important that Congo’s military personnel is confronted with the topic through testimonies of victims, perpetrators and military and juridical experts.

Film-based education is powerful because it shares the thoughts and experiences of real people; viewers can related to them. Film is also remembered in a strong manner and will provoke emotions that help viewers to reflect on their own situation. Eventually it will stimulate them to become an actor of change. This project does not replace other types of military training but complements it.

The film-based educational tool
With the approximately 150 hours of footage shot for Weapon of War as well as Fighting the Silence four to five 20-40 minute appealing and effective educational films will be edited. The films will address a number of important topics related to human rights and military conduct. The precise content will be determined through a workshop with experts. All educational films will together form a series and therefore a complete training tool.

Target group
The project will be focused on the entire Congolese army. Sessions will be organised with brigades including military of different ranking. The age group roughly varies from 16 years old up to 45 years old. If possible some sessions will be organised in the camps that reintegrate ex-rebels into the army. In total it is estimated that between 27,000 and 45,000 military will be reached by the project, which equals 21 to 35% of the official effective of Congo’s army.

The project in practice
A project team will be contracted that is responsible for the day-to-day management of the project. From the summer of 2010 until early 2012, the films will be screened during a sequence of working sessions, by which the images will be alternated by debates and exercises laid out in a specially designed training programme. The sessions are to be moderated by military facilitators that are trained for this purpose. They will also receive a handbook with concrete and practical guidance on how to structure the workshops/sessions and subsequent debates. Congolese nationals are preferred for recruitment, where possible paying attention to gender balance.

Search for Common Ground (SFCG), given their expertise with the military and education on the basis of various communication techniques, is the organisation that can best take the lead in implementing the FARDC project. SFCG will become project holder and responsible for the implementation through the appointment of a special project team within its organisation. SFCG will be assisted by a Steering Committee composed of experts in the field of military reform, diplomacy, communication, film and training.

Expected results
In the longer run, it is hoped this project contributes to creating a Congolese national army that handles respectful of human rights and in particular the rights of women, performs its role as protector of the population against sexual violence and acts in line with national and international guidelines on military code of conduct – especially in the field of sexual violence. Eventually, this will result in a decrease of the number of cases of sexual abuse committed by FARDC military. Because the screenings will be combined with policy work, policy makers are stimulated to take steps on formalising structural education on sexual violence within the army curriculum and to step up action to fight impunity surrounding rape cases committed by military.

The experiences of IFPRODUCTIONS and WHYZE
Because both IFPRODUCTIONS and WHYZE have been working in the DRC for years, they are very familiar with the context and have a large and reliable network of contacts. They adopt a transparent, honest and sincere working style and this proved crucial for accessing different (former) armed groups in the process of filming and convincing people to tell their story. A similar approach will vastly help setting up and monitoring the FARDC project. Important to mention is that the project builds upon the previous experience of launching the Mobile Cinema project, which currently successfully shows IFPRODUCTIONS’ documentary Fighting the in Congo’s rural communities by making use of mobile screening equipment.

Written by Nynke Douma