Each day, more and more attention is being paid towards survivors of sexual violence in conflict worldwide. In respect to all survivors, the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted the resolution establishing 19 June as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict (2015). This Resolution aims “to raise awareness of the need to end conflict-related sexual violence, to stand in solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence around the world, and to pay tribute to all those working on the front-lines, often at great personal risk, to eradicate this scourge… The date 19 June commemorates the breakthrough adoption of Security Council resolution 1820 in 2008, which recognized sexual violence as a tactic of war and a threat to global peace and security, requiring an operational security, justice and service response. It recognized that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and/or constitutive acts of genocide.”
By the end of 2018 and more recently this year, KRCT has continuously supported survivors of sexual violence in conflict, in different international events. Indeed, Mrs. Feride Rushiti (KRCT Executive Director) through her 20 years of working experience vis-à-vis survivors of torture has pushed forward and gave voice international initiatives aiming to establish and support global survivors’ network.
Therefore, together with survivors of sexual violence from the wartime in Kosovo, she attended the international conference “From words to action: repairing the wounds of wartime sexual violence,” organized by Dr. Denis Mukwage Foundation, in Hague. As panelist, Mrs. Rushiti spoke about sexual violence as a weapon of war; the difficulties through which survivors of sexual violence are passing; stigmatizing of this very sensitive social category; recognition of legal status and institutional approach towards survivors of sexual violence; personal pension that recognizes their suffering and pain; as well as the difficulties that victims are facing in accessing justice and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Reparation practices for victims of sexual violence, presented by Mrs. Rushiti at this conference was said to be the best practices and serving as a model around the world.
Afterwards, Mrs. Rushiti has shared her expertize at the consultative meeting organized by Human Rights Program at Roosevelt House, Hunter College (New York). The goal of this international mechanism is to make reparative justice a reality and change the lives of individuals, families, and communities worldwide. By putting survivors at the heart of its structure, the Initiative will answer directly to their needs, while at the same time allow the international community to renew its commitment to end wartime rape. Her international commitment in support of survivors of sexual violence in conflict was followed by Wilton Park conference on “Sexual violence in conflict: delivering justice for survivors and holding perpetrators to account.” This conference aimed to identify challenges and make proposals on how to strengthen justice at the national and international levels. These could include the creation of an independent permanent international investigatory body, the use of sanctions against conflict-related sexual violence, restorative justice including reparation funds and enhanced coordination and standards for those gathering evidence for investigations.
STAND SPEAK RISE UP forum
This forum was conceived as a platform for discussion and exchange between survivors and key actors in the fight against sexual violence in fragile environments – highlighted their experiences, actions, ideas and recommendations, and examined the socio-economic impacts of these human rights violations. This forum presented the initiatives of resilience that survivors are undertaking for healing, accessing justice, obtaining reparations, making their voices heard and becoming actors for peace and change. Through the Stand Speak Rise Up! initiative, HRH The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg has launched an Appeal to representatives of national and international organizations and civil society to unify behind survivors, support their cause and strengthen the means of action to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of sexual violence crimes in conflict and fragile environments.
Feride Rushiti was panelist at the Ending stigma for the victims Session at the forum. Stigmas and taboos are at the heart of the tragedy of sexual violence, and significantly exacerbate all of its impacts. Because of the stigma attached to sexual violence, victims are often rejected by their family and community, facing the double burden of both being the victim of violence and carrying the blame for this violence. These dynamics destroy families and, ultimately, communities – achieving the perpetrators’ goals of destruction and devastation.
KRCT will remain strongly engaged in all national and international initiatives which aim to support survivors of sexual violence in conflict, fighting stigma that surrounds them and rebuilding their lives.