E2P (Empowered2Protect): Direct protection against sexual violence

Increasing numbers of people are in critical need of humanitarian aid – and more funds than ever are needed to meet their needs. These challenges require new approaches – which is why the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA) has launched the first Call for Proposals under the DRA Innovation Fund (DIF). This initiative sees humanitarian organisations join forces with the private sector to develop innovative proposals to tackle urgent humanitarian challenges.

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) encompasses any act perpetrated against an individual’s will within the context of unequal gender and power relations. Statistics on the incidence of SGBV are staggering – UN figures estimate that one in every three women worldwide has experienced SGBV at some point in their lives.

In situations of humanitarian crisis incidences of SGBV can increase dramatically – community structures are disrupted, systems of protection are compromised and populations are on the move. In contexts of armed conflict SGBV is also frequently used as a weapon of war. In all contexts individuals suffer greatly from their inability to defend themselves against SGBV.

Empowered2Protect (E2P) has been developed to both provide immediate protection against SGBV as well as raise awareness amongst affected populations in contexts of crisis and conflict. This new innovation will be piloted in the South Kivu province of DR Congo – in the conflict-affected east of the country incidents of rape account for as much as 60 per cent of all recorded cases of SGBV.

The innovation at the heart of E2P is the ‘Invi Bracelet’ – a self-defence device that can directly keep off perpetrators and alarm others. This bracelet uses smell as a non-violent defence mechanism against (sexual) violence. Inspired by nature, the foul smell emitted by the bracelet evokes a reaction of disgust from the perpetrator – but cannot be used against the wearer. The smell can travel for several hundred meters and so also alarm other people.

The ‘Invi Bracelet’ is the first of its kind in the world – the first self-defence tool to use smell as a defence mechanism against (sexual) violence.

E2P aims to pilot the bracelet and its impact in the humanitarian context of DR Congo. The current design will be tested on its effectiveness. The synergistic effects between the workings of the bracelet and its effect on community awareness as well as any potential negative effects will be assessed as part of the pilot test. Potential changes to adapt the design more effectively to the cultural context and to reduce costs will also be examined.

DRA member Red een Kind will lead/manage and implement E2P and provide technical capacity on Protection and PMEL. The social enterprise Invi will supply the bracelets, adapt the bracelet design to the local context and execute a cost reduction assessment. The local university L’Université Évangélique Afrique will carry out an impact assessment.

Lead: Red een Kind (Help a Child Netherlands), in close collaboration with Help a Child DRC – www.helpachild.org
Other Parties: Invi – https://invi.world,  L’Université Evangélique en Afrique

Contact Persons: Esther de Jong – esther.dejong[@]redeenkind.nl
Agnes Kroese – Agnes.Kroese[@]redeenkind.nl