2015 – A year in review

As we reach the end of 2015, we at World Without Torture look back at some of the stories we covered in the last year.

It has been a busy year where we have blogged about a diverse mix of topics so if some of your favourites are missing, please feel free to mention them in the comments.

2015 was a year of tragedies and triumphs, where we witnessed ongoing human suffering but also how defiant and determined people can be in the face of adversity. Through all of this, your support and participation in the fight to ensure human rights is something that we continue to appreciate enormously.

We look forward to seeing you in 2016 and wish you a very Happy New Year!

26 June

26 June activities at Gwangju Trauma Center in South Korea

7 myths about torture

The use of torture is a contentious topic that has caused a myriad of heated arguments between those who believe the practice can be justified and those who say that it is a serious human rights violation that can never be tolerated. In this blog we debunked seven of the most common myths about torture.

Taking a creative approach to 26 June

Just as we had seen in previous years, creativity played a big role in marking the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June. Thousands of people across the globe joined the torture rehabilitation movement in showcasing both the resilience and creativity of survivors and caregivers alike. We shared some images from the day, check them out here.

Forced virginity testing still a problem

Forced virginity testing is a serious human rights violation and at its worst it constitutes rape and torture. This is how a group of experts described the highly controversial practice that is used to determine a woman’s virginity, when at the start of 2015, Indonesia made headlines around the world when it emerged that the national government subjected female applicants for Indonesia’s National Police to “discriminatory and degrading virginity tests.” Read the full story here.

On the Forefront: Helping torture survivors in San Diego

At IRCT member centre, Survivors of Torture International (SURVIVORS) it is the little things that matter. Something as small as a bus ticket can mean the difference between treatment and no treatment for torture victims. In a year where funding cuts threatened to close and did close many rehabilitation centres, we spoke to SURVIVORS staff to find out how these cuts affect both services and clients. Read the full blog here.

From Cameroon to Pakistan – Empowering female victims of torture and rape

Every day across the globe, women and girls are tortured and ill-treated. For some, rape is part of their ordeal and their rehabilitation path is often solitary, while governments, communities and families struggle to respond to their needs. In this blog we looked at how, with the support of a generous donor, 16 IRCT rehabilitation centres in 14 countries are helping thousands of these women and girls to take control of their lives through a range of activities.

26 June Campaign: How two survivors of Rwandan Genocide overcame the scars of the past

As part of the 26 June Campaign we decided it was time to put a face to torture victims and reclaim their need for and right to rehabilitation – a right guaranteed under the UN Convention against Torture. This blog is about Bernard and Emmanuel, two men who have worked with rehabilitation centres to rebuild their lives following the torture and trauma they endured during the Rwandan Genocide.

Treating refugees: How NGOs are supporting refugees in Serbia

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan have already passed through Serbia as they continue on their trek to EU countries such as Germany, Austria and Norway. We spoke to Bojana Trivuncic, a psychologist and project manager at Serbian centre International Aid Network (IAN), which has been providing medical first aid and psychosocial support to refugees through a Mobile Team Unit in parks and shelters in Belgrade and at the Croatian border. Read more about IAN’s work here.

Four women in the fight against torture

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, we remembered the struggles women have endured around the world and celebrated their achievements by focusing on four inspirational women. These four women have seen or experienced the horrors of torture as an advocate, a caregiver and a victim. Read the full blog here.

An alternative way to treat victims of torture

“I am tired of it, tired of my body. Tired of my soul. I can only see that it’s getting more and more sick as time goes by.” A lot of research has been done on the link between physical exercise and mental health. Yet the focus has largely been on how an active lifestyle may help alleviate symptoms such as depression and chronic pain. In this blog we learned how a group of Danish researchers have gone in a different direction, introducing traumatised refugees to the relatively unknown Basic Body Awareness Therapy (BBAT).

Fighting Torture: Q&A

Towards the end of the year we kicked off our Fighting Torture Q&A series, with an interview with Asger Kjærum from the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) about his work as a human rights advocate, how dinner conversations at home shaped his interest in the health and human rights sectors and how torture is still prevalent in too many countries around the world. Read the full blog here.

Voices from Nepal: Life amid the rubble and the ruins

In April 2015 a devastating earthquake ripped through Nepal, leaving a trail of death and destruction. With a death toll in the thousands and more casualties to come, the impoverished kingdom struggled to provide shelter and relief to the survivors. Our blog at the time shared the belief of IRCT member centre, Centre for Victims of Torture (CVICT) that Nepal’s need for help extended far beyond the immediate aid efforts. Read more here.

Europe’s Narrow Lead on Prosecuting CIA Torture

In August, regular guest blogger Aisha Maniar of the London Guantánamo Campaign wrote about the few, but encouraging efforts in Europe to prosecute those believed to have been complicit in the notorious CIA rendition programme. Find out more here.


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