The International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict and our members have been working hard around the world to prevent sexual violence, protect survivors and prosecute perpetrators. Together we are making an impact - share our news with your friends and invite them to join the Campaign!
Campaigners in Action on our #CongoWomenSpeak Delegation
Campaign Advisor and Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee with Campaign Members in Bunia
At the end of February, the Campaign embarked on a remarkable journey to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for our Congo Women Speak delegation. Nobel Laureate and Campaign Advisory Committee member Leymah Gbowee led the delegation, which met with Campaign members ending sexual violence in conflict.
Delegation highlights included meetings with Campaign members from SOFEPADI and the staff at its Karibuni Wamama Medical Clinic in Orientale province. Karibuni provides holistic services for sexual violence survivors, including psychological and legal support. While in Orientale Province, delegates also met with Fonds pour les Femmes Congolaises, which provides grants for grassroots women-led activist projects tackling sexual violence and other issues that disproportionally affect women.
The delegation also went to Bukavu in South Kivu province, where we met with Campaign Members from Panzi Hospital and the City of Joy. Panzi support survivors of sexual violence and women suffering from complex gynaecological conditions such as obstetric fistula. The City of Joy is a community of women sexual violence survivors working through their trauma and developing skills to help them re-integrate into their communities.
Country in Focus: Syria
March marked the third anniversary of war in Syria. Since the conflict began, sexual violence has been used as a weapon of torture against detainees and against women and girls during home raids and military sweeps.
In 2013, the United Nations (UN) reported 38,000 gender violence survivors in Syria. Campaign Member Women Under Siege has also been tracking sexual violence in the conflict, through a crowd-mapping project. However, establishing exactly how many sexual violence survivors there are in Syria has proven difficult, due to the challenges of collecting data in conflict zones and reluctance of survivors to come forward.
Syrian women continue working for justice and inclusion in their country’s peace process. Many hoped women would play a central role in peace negotiations after the UN called for women’s participation at every level of Syria’s transition to peace. A coalition of Syrian women’s groups called for the inclusion of women at UN-led peace talks in January, but women were left out of negotiations. Women's inclusion in peace-building is essential to sustainable solutions, and activists continue calls for the UN to honour its promise to involve women at all levels of the Syrian peace process.
In the News
Democratic Republic of Congo: On March 7, The International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted Congolese rebel leader Germain Katanga of crimes against humanity and war crimes, but acquitted him of rape and sexual slavery charges. Katanga’s was the first ICC trial to include charges of rape and gender violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Kosovo: Kosovo’s national assembly voted to offer benefits to sexual violence survivors from the 1998-99 Kosovo war. This decision comes after months of pressure from groups such as Campaign Advisory Committee Member Amnesty International. Many view this step as the assembly’s first real attempt to address the widespread rape of ethnic Albanian women by Serb forces. Sexual violence survivors from the conflict will now be entitled to health, housing and employment benefits.
Mozambique: Over 1,000 Mozambican activists marched in protest to prevent a law that would allow the rapist of a girl under 18 to go free if he marries her. Riot police prevented them from reaching the National Assembly but a small group was allowed through to deliver their concerns to the Speaker,Veronica Macamo.
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka's military admitted soldiers abused and tortured female recruits: a rare admission of guilt after years of allegations over its personnel's treatment of Tamil rebels during an uprising. A military spokesman said it accepted the authenticity of a video, leaked on a dissident website, that appeared to show soldiers torturing women soldiers, adding instructors had overstepped their authority for an undisclosed act of violating "military discipline."
Members in Action
At the Campaign Regional Summit: Activists from accross Africa gathered in Nairobi at the beginning of March to strategize ways to expand the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict on the continent and amplify African voices at the upcoming Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. Regional summit delegates represented 10 African countries and were joined by Canadian, Croatian and American Campaign members. Delegates produced a list of actions to protect, prevent and prosecute sexual violence in conflict, emphasizing the need for increased media training for activists and political accountability from their leaders. They are now working on these actions in preparation for the Global Summit in June.
In Foreign Policy: Campaign Advisory Committee Member Lauren Wolfe writes about the rise in civilian rape and women-led anti-violence activism in DRC. She explains how re-integration programs are failing to stop ex-combatants from continuing to perpetrate sexual violence.
In Solidarity with South Sudanese Women: Campaign Members at our African Regional Summit release a letter of support for grassroots South Sudanese women’s activists struggling for peace. The letter outlines a list of concrete actions the international community can take to ensure an end to current conflict in the region.
At the Canadian Senate: Campaign Members Liz Bernstein (Nobel Women's Initiative), Marilou McPhedran (Women, Peace and Security Network) and Jessica Tomlin (MATCH International) joined national and international policy-makers at a Senate Human Rights Committee to review Canada’s leadership on issues of rape and gender violence in conflict.
At the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW): On March 17, the Campaign, MADRE and The Global Fund for Women hosted “What Does Success Look Like on the Ground: Women in Burma, Sudan, Haiti and the DRC are Organizing for Change” at CSW in New York, NY.
The Campaign is gearing up for the UK-led Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflictthis June. This event marks a turning point in the struggle to stop rape in conflict. We are now working with members across the globe to amplify the voices of grassroots activists and survivors at the summit and ensure governments are prepared to make meaningful commitments to the global movement to stop rape in conflict.