Women in Democratic Republic of the Congo are being forced to have sex in return for Ebola vaccinations, according to reports swirling around a pioneering WHO vaccination program.
The research has revealed that a deep mistrust of health workers is rife in DRC and gender-based violence is believed to have increased since the start of the Ebola outbreak in August.
According to The Guardian, studies have revealed concerns by ‘multiple respondents’ that some people are asking for sexual favours in return for Ebola treatments – including vaccinations.
The matter was raised as officials gathered for a national task force meeting in the city of Beni.
They were told how research by NGOs had found there was widespread mistrust in health workers in DRC.
“This region of DRC has a long history of sexual violence and exploitation of women and girls. Though shocking, this is an issue that could have been anticipated,” said Trina Helderman, a senior health and nutrition adviser at aid NGO Medair, calling out “humanitarian actors” for failing to institute more comprehensive safety measures to protect women and girls. Women are being blamed for failing to prevent the spread of Ebola, according to research by the International Rescue Committee.
The security situation in the east of the country, where armed rebels have terrorised the population for years, has made treating the disease difficult.