The first ever global meeting to End Sexual Violence in Conflict is being hosted in London - co-chaired by Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy for Refugees Angelina Jolie.
We Will Speak Out (WWSO), a global coalition of Christian-based NGOs, churches and organisations, including Christian Aid, will be holding a panel discussion at the event on the key role that faith plays in preventing and responding to sexual violence.
Safi, 35 survivor of sexual violence in DRC
Christian Aid partners
Christian Aid partners ABColombia and PBI are holding a panel event to discuss the costs of speaking out for journalists and human rights defenders. Chaired by Channel 4’s Lyndsey Hilsum, speakers include Christian Aid partner Sisma Mujer and Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima.
ABColombia and WWSO will also have exhibits at the event highlighting the issue of sexual violence.
You can find the full programme of public events here.
Why this matters?
Sexual violence is a widespread and destructive and grave violation of human rights. UN Secretary General Ban Ki has said that sexual violence during conflict is as destructive as any bomb or bullet.
Our vision is a world in which neither women nor men are excluded, marginalised, poor or discriminated against because of their gender. We are committed to help reduce gender-based violence by scaling up our work with faith leaders.
Faith leaders are often at the centre of communities and are able to be the first to respond in times of crisis, they have a key role to play in challenging social norms and harmful traditional practices as well as preventing and ending sexual violence.
We are advocating for the prevention of sexual violence against women and men in conflict and ensuring that survivors of sexual violence can access justice.
What are we doing?
In Colombia the continued presence of paramilitary groups has made women and girls vulnerable with their bodies used to achieve military objectives and as spoils of war, with despicable impunity.
We support the work of Corporación Sisma Mujer, a Colombian women’s organisation working to improve Colombian public policies on women. Most of the work by Sisma Mujer has focused on women victims of sexual violence, their access to justice and reparation.
Some of their achievements include contributing to the creation of national legislation on violence against women that has improved the administration of justice in cases of women victims of sexual violence.
Sisma Mujer together with our partner ABColombia published a report, 'Colombia: Women, conflict-related violence and the peace process' (PDF) which highlights the extent of the problem, the high levels of impunity for sexual related crimes as well as recommendations to the UK, Irish, US and Colombian governments.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Such is the horror and scale of sexual violence in conflict-affected DRC that in recent years reports have emerged that 48 women are raped every hour, earning DRC the title of the ‘worst place on earth to be a woman’.
Those most at risk are usually women and girls who are already extremely vulnerable, such as Safi, a 35-year-old widow who lost her husband a year previously.
Living alone with her six children, as she was trying to flee from an outbreak of violence, she was accosted by armed soldiers and attacked. This has left her with severe health complications that desperately need treating, but with few medical services available, she must continue to wait.
Christian Aid works with partners CBCA and BOAD across Eastern DRC to help protect women from violence and to help them access treatment after attacks. But Safi is clear on the best solution:
‘There needs to be lasting security, with no war and no armed groups. That is the surest way of protecting women against rape.'
Photo gallery: sexual violence in DRC.
As the Syrian conflict enters its fourth year, the devastating impact on the Syrian people continues to worsen. The conflict and mass movement of people forced to flee their homes has made women and girls more vulnerable to violence and insecurity.
Our partner Asuda has been working to combat violence against women in the Kurdish Region of Iraq since 2000, by raising awareness and offering protection to women affected.
Asuda has now expanded its work to respond to the refugee crisis working to support Syrian refugees. Over the coming year, they will be reaching thousands of women with information about their rights as well as access to Asuda’s counselling, legal and medical referral services.
Find out more
ABColombia report on sexual violence (PDF)
Christian Aid press release about the summit
BBC programme: an unspeakable act - male rape
Church Times: Colombian journalist refuses to be silenced by rape
Irish Examiner: a woman at war for justice in Colombia
Metro: Angelina Jolie on sexual violence
Video: the stuff of nightmares #timetoact