Rehabilitating women and girls from sexual violence and torture

Women rally in honour of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign in Lalitpur, Nepal, 2009. Photo credit to Saathi, a Nepalese NGO. Available via Flickr.

In 2003, researchers questioned a random sample of almost 400 Liberian women living in refugee camps in Sierra Leon. About 74% reported they had been sexually abused prior to their displacement. More than half responded that they had been sexually abused during their displacement. (PDF for sources from UNFPA)

While this may seem like an extreme example, it echoes the reality for many women and girls around the world. Rape and sexual abuse have been common weapons of war in the more than 100 armed conflicts that occurred between 1989 and 1997.

And in the aftermath of armed conflict, women are continually targeted, exploited, and abused – from life in refugee camps, the post-war collapse of justice systems, or the absence of healthcare facilitates to adequately treat the survivors of sexual violence.

In coordination with our five-year strategy, the IRCT wishes to focus on particularly ‘hidden’ victims of torture – in this case, the women and girls who have faced sexual violence and torture both during conflict and in peacetime.

With the help from a generous donor, we have been able to provide grants to 22 member centres around the globe. Their geographic diversity is a testament to the widespread problem of sexual violence. However, their range of activities – from holistic psycho-social rehabilitation to livelihood programmes – demonstrated a passionate range of partners that are ready to address variety of needs of women and girls who are victims of sexual violence.

In the coming months, we will update our website and this blog with information on the 22 centres targeting survivors of sexual violence, their activities and programmes, and some stories from their work on the ground. Furthermore, we will continually update this page with news, information, and new reports that address the issue of sexual violence and torture.

Please join us in continuing to highlight this global crime against marginalised women and girls, and highlight the work of our member centres and partners who offer their rehabilitative services.

For more information, please read:
Women’s bodies are the terrain of struggle (The Sunday Independent – South Africa)
Kyrgyzstan: Sexual Violence Amidst Ethnic Conflict  (The Journal of Turkish Weekly)
End the cycle of violence (Amnesty International)
Violence against women in situations of armed conflict and displacement (PDF/World Health Organization)

By Tessa

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