Managing the battle space: women on the frontline in eastern DRC


In the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), being identified as the wife of a rebel or militia member is tantamount to acknowledging that one is an accomplice of an enemy of the state. Yet these presumed ‘wives’ are forced to survive in or on the periphery of the combat zones, concealing their identity while using their affiliation to armed groups as a source of survival.

This study, which was conducted in eastern DRC, shows that many of the women are less dependent on their partners than is generally presumed, and that their spousal relationships often become a survival mechanism.

About the author

Nelson Alusala is a research consultant at the Institute for Security Studies. He holds a PhD in political sciences from the University of Pretoria. He previously worked for the United Nations Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has also undertaken research on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration in various contexts in Africa, including in Mozambique and Liberia. He remains engaged in similar initiatives in the continent’s Great Lakes region.

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