June 2013 Bulletin

Welcome to our monthly update!

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict and our many members around the world are breaking down barriers. Here is a round-up of the Campaign's latest activities and important news items. We hope you will forward to your friends and encourage them to join the Campaign!

Campaigners in Action


This month, the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict was in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for Women Beyond War & Militarism: Women-Driven Solutions for a Nonviolent World, a conference hosted by the Nobel Women's Initiative. Campaigners from Burma, Canada, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Liberia, Mexico, Switzerland, Sudan, the United Kingdom and the United States came together to share experiences and strategies for ending rape and gender violence around the world.

The conference tackled themes ranging from peacebuilding, education and gender roles to campaigning strategies and documenting violence against women. The Campaign live tweeted from two events: “Survivors of Violence: Reclaiming Power, Community & Self” and “Effective Campaigning: Approaches for a Sustained Conversation.”

We even recruited new members! Here’s what one of them had to say about the conference.

Photo from the Women Beyond War & Militarism conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Photo credit: Judy Rand.


Country in Focus: Guatemala

On 10 May, former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was convicted of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, against the Ixil Mayan people during his 1982-1983 rule. As part of the reparation requirements, the judges ordered personal apologies made to the survivors of sexual violence. The Ríos Montt case marked the first time wartime rape was tried as a crime in a domestic court more than 15 years after the end of the conflict.

Less than three weeks later, however, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court upheld an earlier decision to return the trial to where it stood on 19 April. In response to the court’s decision, 1,500 Indigenous Maya marched in protest and five women Nobel Peace Laureates called on Guatemala to respect the rights of survivors and end impunity for atrocities. Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum told Democracy Now, "the most important thing is not to a take a step backwards."


In the News

A new report called “Pushed to the Brink” by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand exposes the heightened risk of human trafficking along the Chinese border with Burma.
Over 100,000 people have been displaced over the last two years.

Democratic Republic of Congo
As violence resurged between the DRC’s government forces and M23 rebels, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, UN Special Envoy on the Great Lakes Mary Robinson, and OCHA Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang visited the country to support the newly-signed “framework of hope” peace agreement.  "We have the best chance in many years to bring peace and calm to the region," said the Secretary-General.

President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the Somalia Conference in London, where he met with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Kenyatta also attended the 21st African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa. Kenyatta stands indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for rape and other crimes. Leaders at the AU Summit called for Kenyatta’s charges to be returned to Kenyan courts, a move which has been interpreted as a challenge to the legitimacy of the ICC.

On 25 April, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution establishing a peacekeeping mission to Mali. Resolution 2100 condemns human rights abuses, including widespread rape and violence against women, which have been reported in Mali’s northern region and calls for prosecution of the perpetrators. The resolution also noted that the office of the prosecutor at the ICC has now opened a file on the abuses ongoing in Mali.

African Union
Ahead of the 50th Anniversary Summit of the African Union (AU) on 26-27 May, the Campaign called on AU member states to create an action plan to address sexual violence in conflict.  Amidst concerns that AU leaders were weakening their ties to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Campaign members engaged in discussion on social media and urged the AU to reaffirm its commitment to justice for crimes against humanity.


From Our Members

Women Beyond War: ‘We want peace. We’re tired of war’
In this interview, Julienne Lusenge of Solidarité Feminine Pour la Paix et le Développement Intégral (SOFEPADI) spoke to Jennifer Allsopp about her work as a women's human rights defender and the prospects for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Women Beyond War: Patriarchy and Militarism in Egypt
The lack of institutional concern for epidemic levels of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt is part of the larger neglect of the issue of gender equality by the post-revolutionary powers.  Journalist and activist Hania Moheeb spoke out at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in Belfast.

Women Beyond War: Sexual Violence, Access to Justice, and Human Rights
The patriarchal framework of justice, which reflects gendered stereotypes, cultural and traditional prejudice, has to change. Madeleine Rees of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom analyzes how this can be done.

Op-Ed: To Stop Sexual Violence, it’s Time to Look in the Mirror
Nobel Laureate and Campaign Co-Chair Leymah Gbowee published a piece with the Thomson Reuters Foundation with Advisory Committee Member and Sonke Gender Justice Executive Director Dean Peacock. They applaud the South African government’s decision to prosecute rapes from the 2008 Zimbabwean election as a major step in ending impunity for sexual violence.  At the same time, they call on South Africa – and all other African nations – to open their eyes to the abuses occurring within their own borders.

World Pulse: The Viral Rage against Rape
“Women are beginning to use the web to curb the epidemic of sexual violence – and to defy simplistic hype,” says Jensine Larsen, Founder and CEO of World Pulse.  She describes how women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, such as activist Nemma Namadamu, are using online tools available to them to share their stories and challenge stereotypes about women’s roles in conflict and peacebuilding.

Activists on the Rios Montt Trial in Guatemala
At the trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt for crimes against the Ixil people, human rights activists and court witnesses alike faced a range of challenges and threats, both to their work and to their personal safety.


The Month Ahead

39th G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland
On 17-18 June, Group of Eight leaders will meet to discuss trade, taxation, and transparency.  The G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict was released at the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting in April, but the issue is not a priority for the Summit.

United Nations Security Council Debate on Women, Peace and Security
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague will preside over a ministerial-level open debate focusing on prevention of sexual violence. The UN Secretary-General and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura are expected to speak. It is also expected that the Security Council will consider a new draft resolution on gender violence in conflict.

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The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict
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