Page views in 2019

Amour Afrique

tackling misinformation and confusion

The newest addition to the global Love Matters network is Amour Afrique Congo. Launched on Valentine’s Day 2019, the French language channel targets young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with easy-to-access information and news on love, sex and relationships created by a local team.

While most young people in DRC do have some kind of sex-education at school, the content and scope varies widely and in general, young people have very little access to information about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Within most families, discussion of issues around SRHR is taboo and services are difficult to access, especially for unmarried young people.

To ensure the Amour Afrique Congo platform would attract and engage young Congolese, RNW Media, together with local consultants and members of its existing local team for the Habari RDC platform, carried out intensive research in the country. One aspect of this research was focus group discussions (FGDs) with young Congolese to better understand their needs, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around SRHR issues.

Participants in the FGDs agreed that open discussions of sexuality are largely taboo, so mostly they learn about sex through gossip and personal experience. There was a high degree of misinformation and confusion around sexual health and birth control. The topics young people were most interested in were how to have a happy relationship, how to talk about sex with parents and sexually transmitted infections.

Raising awareness

DRC has a poor ranking on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index and gender-based violence is a serious problem. According to the 2013-14 Demographic and Health report, based on a nationwide survey conducted by Congolese government bodies, 71% of women have experienced some form of intimate partner violence (IPV), and 64% of girls aged 15 – 19 reported non-consensual first sex. Thirty-three percent of married women aged 15 – 24 reported sexual violence from their husband within the previous year, and armed groups continue to use rape and sexual violence against women as weapons of war. 

However, DRC has signed the Maputo Protocol and officially enshrined it as national law in 2018. Included within the Maputo Protocol are promises to eliminate discrimination against women; ban harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and early childhood marriage; and protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising abortion in some cases. The implications of adopting the protocol are far reaching, and Amour Afrique aims to play a role in ensuring information is available and awareness is raised.  

Big ambitions, growing fast

Big ambitions, growing fast

The ambitious goal of the Amour Afrique team is to become known as DRC’s leading source of reliable, online SRHR information for young people. RNW Media already has a successful platform in the country, Habari DRC, which focuses on social cohesion and inclusive governance and has a large network of bloggers and contributors across the country. Amour Afrique will work with members of the Habari network and build its own network by training new contributors to create respectful and inclusive SRHR content.

Amour Afrique is one of RNW Media’s fastest growing platforms. A month after launching, the Facebook page already had 25,000 followers and that number grows daily. The Facebook fans are highly engaged with around 50 comments per article shared. The Amor Afrique team has also seen that young Congolese have rapidly started to use the platform as a safe space to discuss SRHR related issues, while also sending questions through private messages to our moderators.

‘In my country, it is really taboo to speak of sexuality, love and feelings. I have been fighting this type of discrimination against the young Congolese through my articles for a while now. Young people, who are now looking for answers regarding question on sexuality, are often trapped. This is why I have decided to work in this project: to bring young people out of ignorance but also to bring my country towards a generation where sexuality is no longer taboo. I know it is not easy, but we will get there thanks to our teamwork and our active followers.’

Laetitia Kasongo, moderator for Amour Afrique

Explore the possibilities on love, sex and relationships

Would you like to join us in creating safe spaces for young people to make informed choices to have safer, healthier and happier sex and relationships? Please contact us to explore the possibilities.

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