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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Radio Sauti Ya Mkaaji raises awareness about women’s reproductive health

Only 3.5 per cent of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s national budget is set aside for health. Thus, in a country struggling with diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, there are few resources for women’s reproductive health.

Each year, sexual violence, early marriage or complications in childbirth lead to around 12,000 cases of vaginal fistula – a condition in which a hole develops in the vaginal wall. This condition often leaves women in pain, or as social outcasts. But it is preventable and treatable. One barrier is the lack of awareness and knowledge among both women and men.

One of Farm Radio International’s broadcasting partners in DR Congo has been working to raise awareness. Modeste Shabani works with Radio Sauti Ya Mkaaji (“Voice of the farmers”), a community radio station based in Kasongo, Maniema Province. Modeste says that the station felt obliged to tackle this topic. In an interview with Inter Press Service, he said, “Here in Maniema, there is a practice against which public education can make little headway: early marriage. And once a little girl is married, often as the second or third wife, it is difficult to speak to her about the negative effects of this issue.”

The situation is complicated: even after the condition has been treated by surgery, women can suffer other consequences. Modeste explained to Farm Radio Weekly, “Outside organizations bring … medical specialists to operate [on] women with fistula. But this does not work because it is difficult for the victims to identify themselves … because they are ashamed to say they were raped. Girls risk losing the chance to marry, while women risk losing their marriage, and yet in both cases they suffer.”

We applaud Radio Sauti Ya Mkaaji’s efforts to inform and raise awareness about this difficult issue in their broadcast area.

Read more: http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/09/dr-congo-hard-to-save-all-women-suffering-from-fistula/

We are always keen to hear more from our broadcasting partners, and share their stories and experiences. If you would like to be featured in this section, please email Farm Radio Weekly editor Karen at: khampson@farmradio.org

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