Researcher - Street Girls in Kinshasa

We're looking for an experienced practitioner to undertake some 'Research on factors surrounding the family reintegration of street girls in Kinshasa, DRC: the search for long-term and durable solutions in the light of multiple stigmatisations’

Anecdotal evidence has suggested that the number of children living on the streets of Kinshasa has grown each year. The most recent census of street children carried out by REJEER estimated 13,877 children living on the street, 26% of which are girls. Tshangu is one of the poorest and most populous districts of Kinshasa, where thousands of immigrants settled in during the last decades creating a huge slum with a high prevalence of street children. Among these, girls who may become enticed into sex work as a means of survival, are especially stigmatised and excluded from society, thereby reinforcing their alienation and marginalisation. Existing government services are wholly inadequate and remain out of reach for most girls; they have little or no access to social services such as health care, psychosocial support or education, and very few programmes currently cater for their specific needs. Many of these girls fall pregnant, further compounding their chances in life.

In Kinshasa, children end up in the streets for various reasons. Push factors include family rejection, abuse or neglect in the home, poverty, or accusations of witchcraft. A recent study conducted by the World Bank highlights that often for boys the push factors are primarily economic, but for girls it is more often because of poor relationships with one or both parents. In some cases children are drawn to the streets by peer pressure or hope to earn a living.

These reasons are often reinforced or masked by accusations of witchcraft. According to our survey in 2009, 41% of the girls were forced to leave home due to abuse and mistreatment connected with the accusation of witchcraft. Increasingly poor families (especially with the presence of a step mother) who were unable to provide for all their children have used accusations of sorcery as a more “culturally acceptable” excuse for abandoning their children. These children face stigma from their community and are forced on to the streets with nowhere else to go. The stigmatisation and marginalisation is also to their ways to earn a living (prostitution, stealing etc.) which needs addressing for their long term reintegration.

The main purposes of this participatory research are to:

  • Identify and evaluate a working strategy to increase the effectiveness of reintegration activities for (former) street girls in Tshangu and different ways to address the sources of stigmatisation by comparing realities and aspirations of both (former) street girls and families with the available support services in Kinshasa or good practices more widely.
  • Identify and use learning from this participatory research to inform stakeholders such as REJEER, COPERF (Collectif des Organisations Internationales pour la Protection des Enfants en Rupture Familiale) in Kinshasa, The Child Protection Working Group and the Consortium for Street Children in the UK and the researchers and practitioners in other contexts aiming to gather children and young people’s perspectives and experiences.

Please see attached Terms of Reference for more details.

Job attachment: 
Closing date: 
Sunday, 10. February 2013