May 2013 Bulletin

Welcome to our monthly bulletin where we bring you updates from the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict and our members around the world!

Campaigners in Action


At the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting, British Foreign Minister William Hague announced their Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. The ministers recognized the need to address gender violence in conflict and pledged to include women in any negotiation or ceasefire supported by a G8 state. They also agreed in a landmark move to reject amnesties for rape in all future peace agreements. The declaration was accompanied by a promise of nearly $36 million to support the initiative.

The Campaign issued a press release commending the ministers on their initiative and urging them to begin acting on their commitments immediately.  The Foreign Ministers Meeting comes in advance of the G8 Summit. which will take place in Northern Ireland on June 17-18. The Campaign will be reaching out to the Heads of State of the G8 to encourage them to keep ending gender violence at the top of their agendas going into the meeting.

Photo from “Preventing Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes in Conflict and Securing Justice for Survivors” in New York, 25 September 2012. From left to right: British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Campaign Co-Chair Leymah Gbowee.  Photo via UN Women.


Country in Focus: Democratic Republic of Congo

Following pressure from the United Nations, the Congolese government has suspended 12 army officers for ordering mass rapes in the town of Minova last November.  A UN report gives evidence of 126 cases of rape by army soldiers, but a government investigation believes numbers to be much higher.  The ongoing investigation is a significant step forward in the prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence in a country where widespread impunity for gender violence remains. It also comes on the heels of Congolese war criminal Bosco Ntaganda’s landmark appearance before the International Criminal Court.


In the News

Human Rights Watch, a Campaign Advisory Committee Member, issued a report detailing human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslims of Burma’s Arakan state, including rape and forced displacement.

Central Africa Republic
As the situation in the Central African Republic deteriorates, the UN’s political chief Jeffrey Feltman called on the rebels to control fighters and protect civilians from abuse, including murder, torture, and rape.  In neighbouring Chad, concern is rising over the safety and security of refugee camps for people fleeing the upheaval and violence in the Central African Republic.

Nobel Peace Laureate and Campaign Co-Chair Rigoberta Menchú Tum was joined by six fellow Laureates in a public statement against the stalling of the genocide trial of former President Ríos Montt.  Confusion surrounds the status of the trial after an announcement on April 23 that it would be suspended and return to the pre-trial phase. 

People in India have responded with outrage to the news of another attack, this time involving the abduction and rape of a five-year-old child, with evidence of police inaction and insensitivity.  The girl’s father alleges that his attempts to report the girl missing and to press charges were ignored by police.  Protesters gathered outside the police headquarters, the offices of the interior minister, and the hospital where the child was receiving treatment to voice their discontent.

UN Special Rapporteur on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura visited Somalia in early April to highlight rape in the country’s camps for internally displaced people.  The Somali government, in a groundbreaking move, acknowledged the complicity of its own troops in the issue and resolved to take action.  These developments come on the heels of the case of Lul Ali Isman, who was jailed for alleging she was raped by a government soldier, along with the journalist who had interviewed her. Bangura said that a team of experts will arrive in Somalia in July to work with the military and police on the issue.

United Nations Security Council
The Security Council held its annual open debate on Women, Peace and Security on April 17, focusing on a report based on UN Special Rapporteur on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura’s work on sexual violence in conflict.  Bangura told members, "We have an opportunity like at no other time in history to break the back of this age-old evil."  Members affirmed their commitments to the International Criminal Court and the new Arms Trade Treaty.  The report included a so-called “name-and-shame” list of state and rebel groups in Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali, and 16 different groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


From Our Members

Laureates on Women Breaking the G8 Iron Door
In an op-ed published on Al-Jazeera, Nobel Peace Laureates and Campaign Co-Chairs Leymah Gbowee and Jody Williams deemed the G8 Foreign Ministers priority on ending sexual violence in conflict to be the start of a new era, "For the countless individuals and organisations around the world that have tirelessly and courageously devoted themselves to going after the perpetrators of sexual violence and helping survivors, including all of us at the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, this is a sweet day."

Jesuit Refugee Service: Conflict Normalizing Sexual Violence in Colombia
In this guest post by the Jesuit Refugee Service, James Stapleton writes the role of conflict in creating and maintaining a culture of violence is central to increasing violence against women in Colombia.  More and more, survivors of sexual violence are coming to believe that what happened to them is normal, and thus they do not report their attacks, “Recognising all forms of sexual violence as such has to be a first step towards ending it; but the long-term goal has to be a peaceful and just solution.”

Jody Williams at the Paley Center
Nobel Peace Laureate and Campaign Co-Chair Jody Williams was interviewed by Advisory Committee Member, Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of the Paley Center.  “Vacillating between sobering and side-splitting anecdotes, Williams and Mitchell covered a wide range of topics: Williams' early days in El Salvador, how she learned she was showing up in UN officials' nightmares, what it felt like to wait for a call from the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and the ways in which she sabotaged her first and last interview for a desk job.”


The Month Ahead

50th Anniversary of the African Union
As part of the African Union’s year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary, the 21st Summit will be taking place in Addis Ababa from May 19-27. The Campaign led a delegation to the AU Summit in January, and will continue to call for the institution and individual members to make ending rape in conflict a priority. We will be following along to the celebrations--follow along for as we take the opportunity to highlight some amazing women's leaders from the continent!

Gender is My Agenda Campaign
Femmes Africa Solidarité, a member of the Campaign’s Advisory Committee, will be convening the annual Gender is My Agenda  consultative meeting ahead of the African Union Summit. The meeting with take place on May 20-21 and will result in recommendations on women's rights that activists will bring to African leaders. 

Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference in Northern Ireland
This May, the Nobel Women's Initiative will convene its biennial conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Campaign members will be gathering and sharing the event through social media and the Nobel Women's Initiative website - stay tuned for more details!

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The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 430, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7 Canada    Phone: +1.613.569.8400    Fax: +1.613.691.1419

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