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EDINBURGH Scotland, 5 April 2013 – Research released today by YEJ shows that economic instability is strongly linked to intimate partner violence among the young men and women of Domain Mariale in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The levels of intimate partner violence in this settlement are of horrific proportions. 75% of women have experience sexual violence from an intimate partner. 100% of women have experienced some form of physical violence – being hit, shoved, kicked, dragged, choked, burnt or threated with a weapon – from an intimate partner.

Interviews and group consultations revealed that women with less education, minimal or no financial autonomy, and a lack of social support were most at risk of violence. However, the key contributing factor – cited by both men and women – in episodes of violence was the stress and anxiety caused by unemployment, underemployment and economic insecurity.

Both men and women cited low-incomes or lack of income as reasons for domestic violence. Men who could not find sufficient work in the local mines to support their families reported feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. Study participants revealed that these feelings often lead to mental illness and alcoholism. Alcohol abuse was also recognised a significant risk factor for intimate partner violence.

These finding emerged from baseline research conducted by YEJ on behalf of the Good Shepherd Foundation (GSF). The study also revealed that the high levels of intimate partner violence have been normalised by the community. Both men and women stated that, in many instances, levels of violence were justifiable and even acceptable.

YEJ has begun working with GSF to develop a country plan that will address the problem of violence in Domain Mariale. The plan includes economic development projects to reduce dependence on the mining industry for income. It also includes a range of health and community education programmes that will provide support for those suffering from abuse and sensitize the community regarding the basic human right to live free from violence.