The search for long-term and durable solutions in the light of ‘multiple stigmatisations’.

DRC has had a complex and troubled recent history, marked by entrenched poverty, years of conflict and a failed state struggling to provide basic needs for the most vulnerable groups in society. This has contributed to a weakening of the social fabric and the destruction of traditional community coping mechanisms that families relied upon This reality is particularly visible in the social disruption characterised by the growing number of street children in the country’s urban centres such as Kinshasa, where 44% of children with street connections are girls, an increasing trend according to the REJEER1. Girls are often victims of commercial sexual exploitation and violence at the hand of street peers, police officers and older men in the city who take advantage of them in exchange for money, or forms of “protection”.

This research looked at the factors affecting the family reintegration of girls in the Tshangu district, an operational zone of the local NGO OSEPER, a partner of War Child for a 3-year project, seeking to address the needs of street-connected girls, including family reintegration.

It is based on consultation with 40 key informants (service providers and child protection specialists in Kinshasa) and interviews with 79 families and girls (both living/working on the streets and those who are successfully reintegrated). It also included participatory consultation involving 52 girls formerly or currently living and working on the streets. Finally, a comparative literature review and a consultation process with child protection experts were undertaken at the global level to identify elements of promising practice in the reintegration of street-connected girls.

Disclaimer: This research was commissioned by War Child UK and Comic Relief and undertaken by Mathilde Guntzberger on behalf of Family for Every Child. Co-authors include Prof. Florentin Azia and Oasis Kodila. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of War Child, Comic Relief or Family for Every Child.

1 REJEER is the network of street children specialized organisations in Kinshasa.