Newsletter Index     Boletín 2018

 





NEWSLETTER NO.2/2018 June 20th

Torture in the Context of Migration


Dear friends and colleagues

“I recently visited an immigration removal centre for men – not as an MP,
but as a normal visitor, under the radar. The reality is brutal.”

Kate Osamor, Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Edmonton, Canada

As the International Day on Support of Victims of Torture- June 26 approaches, HHRI wishes to expose the global relevance of Torture in the Context of Migration. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Worldwide nearly 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute, many of them fleeing from torture, violent conflict, persecution and repressive regimes.

Asylum seekers present a serious challenge for asylum authorities who, generally, are poorly prepared to receive and support overwhelming numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. In this context, torture victims do not receive the support they need, nor are assisted in the way they should, given the lack of systematic procedures to identify survivors of torture, which is key to prevent further physical and mental health harm. Without identification, there is no referral to urgently needed rehabilitation services, and survivors may risk being placed in immigration detention. This is something that often endangers the already vulnerable situation of the individuals and their families.

Identification of survivors of torture is essential for refugee status determination. It is critical that physical and psychological signs of torture are assessed and documented, as part of the asylum procedure. Torture survivors struggling with torture related trauma should be provided with flexible processes suited to assess their protection claims. These procedures should assess both somatic and mental health problems, such as: depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and suicidal thoughts, which should be addressed as part of rehabilitation services to enable them to live in safety.

In this regard, since July 2015, EU Member States shall ensure and support torture victims who apply for asylum, as specified by the directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 26 June 2013, standards for the reception of applicants for international protection. This directive includes specific recommendations to provide torture victims with adequate reception conditions, special procedural guarantees, the possibility of having their torture claims documented and treatment for the damage caused by torture.

Ultimately, a well-placed identification process will stablish the bases for redress and reparation of torture survivors. In particular, it is important to note that the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - also known as the Istanbul Protocol, has been developed to serve as a set of international guidelines for the assessment of persons who allege torture and ill treatment, for investigating cases of alleged torture, and for reporting such findings to the judiciary and any other investigative body. Health professionals all over the world have a special obligation to ensure that torture survivors are received in ways that provide them with health care as well as documentations of torture related problems, both to substantiate protection needs, and enable rights to redress.


Further Reading on Torture in the Context of Migration

  • Sudden and unexpected family separation, can lead to emotional trauma in children
    American Psychological Association (APA), open letter to President Trump
    Decades of psychological research have determined that it is in the best interest of the child and the family to keep families together. Families fleeing their homes to seek sanctuary are already under a tremendous amount of stress. Sudden and unexpected family separation, such as separating families at the border, can add to that stress, leading to emotional trauma in children.

  • New standards on support and protection for torture victims in the context of migration
    In the beginning of 2018, the UN Committee against Torture and the Special Rapporteur on Torture published updated standards on support and protection for torture victims in the context of migration. These standards draw extensively on IRCT's health-based expertise and knowledge about how to ensure a trauma informed approach to asylum procedures and reception of refugees.

  • Torture Victims in the Context of Migration: Identification, Redress and Rehabilitation,
    Migration is part of who we are as a human species. Since the dawn of time, people have. Today, there are more people on the move than ever before. Many flee their homes because they have no other choice. They are in flight from extreme poverty, economic or political instability, generalized violence, gender inequality or other forms of discrimination. There is often a perilous and precarious migration journey ahead. Many run the risk of losing their own lives and those of their loved ones in the hope of finding safety and security.

  • Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Humanitarian or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
    1. The purposes of effective investigation and documentation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (hereinafter "torture or other ill-treatment") include the following: (a) Clarification of the facts and establishment and acknowledgement of individual and State responsibility for victims and their families; (b) Identification of measures needed to prevent recurrence…

  • EU Migration and Home Affairs - Reception conditions,
    Directive also provides particular attention to vulnerable persons, especially unaccompanied minors and victims of torture. Member States must, inter alia, conduct an individual assessment in order to identify the special reception needs of vulnerable persons and to ensure that vulnerable asylum seekers can access medical and psychological support.

  • (Chapter six) UNHCR Resettlement Submission Categories,
    UNHCR resettlement activities constitute a means of providing international protection and appropriate durable solutions to refugees. As seen in previous chapters of this Handbook, offering refugees a durable solution through resettlement is also a tangible expression of international responsibility sharing.

  • Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors,
    The resource kit is produced by the IRCT, the umbrella organisation for more than 140 independent international torture rehabilitation centres promoting and supporting torture rehabilitation and working for the prevention of torture worldwide. This resource kit is produced as part of a three-year project entitled “Developing the Capacity of IRCT Member Centres to Deliver Holistic Torture Rehabilitation Services through South-South and South-North Peer Supervision and Support”.

  • Ensuring torture victims' 17 rights in the global compact,
    Torture has devastating consequences for victims, their families and the broader community. Its severe physical and psychological effects disrupt the lives of victims and often prevent them from continuing their life plan. Clients at IRCT member centres describe their experiences after torture as living in an empty shell, being in a prison without bars, and being unable to imagine a future.

  • Falling Through the Cracks, Asylum Procedures and Reception Conditions for Torture Victims in the European Union,
    Torture victims are not receiving the specialised support they need to get better and to engage effectively with the asylum process. One reason for this is that most EU Member States, including the eight countries featured in this report, do not have a procedure for systematic identification of torture victims in the asylum procedure. This key issue has a range of negative consequences on the individual, such as deteriorating physical and mental health and flawed consideration of their asylum claim.

  • Victims of torture: Identification and follow up (presentation),
    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment.
    Universal declaration art. 5; International Covenant on CPR, art.7; European HR convention, art. 3; UN convention against torture, 1- 16.

  • I’m an MP, and I visited an immigration detention centre undercover – what I discovered was shocking,
    I recently visited an immigration removal center for men – not as an MP, but as a normal visitor, under the radar. The reality is brutal. The UK is the only EU country that does not set a specific time limit on immigration detention. Knowing that their detention could be indefinite damages the mental health of those in detention.

Manual for stabilisation and skills training after traumatic events

By Torunn Støren, Sveinung Odland and Helen Johnsen Christie (2018)

We would like to introduce this helpful stabilisation manual that has been developed to help stabilise symptoms in people who have experienced traumatic events. Their need is first of all to obtain skills to deal with their symptoms. They need to recognise that the painful events are no longer happening, to acquire a sense of safety in the present and to gain more perceived control over thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. The manual can be used as a first-stage intervention prior to processing traumatic events. The manual was written after NKVTS (Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies) published findings from the study of survivors from the massacre on Utøya, Norway on 22 July 2011. The study found that many of the victims continued to have sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, somatic disorders, traumatic grief, withdrawal and loss of interest in day-to-day activities. The manual is also suitable for different kinds of trauma. The different themes of the manual are:

• Post-traumatic symptoms
• Difficulties sleeping
• Concentration
• Triggers, different types
• Triggers, handling
• Emotions
• Mindfulness
• Identity and meaning
• Grief



Are you familiar with HHRI GBV manual?

The training manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict also known as “HHRI GBV Manual” is a tool on approaches and techniques that address the psychological needs of survivors of gender-based violence. It is a tool to approach survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence in contexts of disasters, conflicts and emergency situations, where access to health professionals with psychological or psychiatric expertise usually is very limited.

The Arabic, Russian and Spanish versions of our training manual is available for free. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual it. Please note that complementary to the GBV Manual, we have developed a tool box which you also can accessed for free in English, Spanish, Korean, Georgian and Romanian if you visit our GBV manual web page.

Facebook

Please check out our HHRI Facebook page and click like. we are continuously posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web There you will find new and relevant articles newsletters and videos.

Upcoming events


We appreciate feedback and comments

Kindly send us your thoughts and suggestions on what issues you would like to see in this newsletter or share with us your evidence-based practices to post on our website. To disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination. If you are planning an event on related issues, please let us know so we can include your event in our newsletter.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

Sincerely yours

Health and Human Rights Info
Silvia Gurrola Bonilla
Project Coordinator
post@hhri.org
www.hhri.org

To the top

 

 

 


NEWSLETTER NO.1/2018 Februar 28th

Traumatic memory and the Need for Fair Trials of Rape Victims


Dear friends and colleagues

“Victims are put through the wringer of having their credibility questioned, their integrity questioned, their behavior questioned, so that they are the focus of the investigation rather than the offender’s behavior.”

Rebecca Campbell, Community Psychologist, Michigan State University

As the International Women´s Day approaches, HHRI wishes to call the attention to the need for greater awareness and understanding as to the characteristics of traumatic memory, and the necessity of taking this information into consideration in the different situations in which victims are questioned about violations and threats, that is as part of medical examination, in public courts, at college campuses and by media. By educating personnel engaged in this kind of work, on trauma and memory, those who speak up and report the assault may hopefully increase the chance of being listened to and having a fair trial.

What may seem as discrepancies in the survivor´s testimony often reinforce the prevailing tendency to doubt sexual assault victims. Trauma survivors frequently have fragmented recollections and difficulty with some of the details. This can sometimes make it difficult for the person to tell the story in a consistent way It is therefore of essence to understand that the victim may be trying to make coherence out of an incredibly disorganized and painful set of elements and experiences.

To understand the mechanics of how memories may seemingly become inconsistent, we must know the way the brain functions in response to trauma. The intense fear that comes from experiencing a traumatic event, alerts the victim of a threat to her survival. This immediately, and without any conscious deliberation, activates the amygdala —an area of the “older” brain involved in both fear processing and stress response—. When the amygdala starts sending out alerts, humans —as well as animals— go into survival mode, putting the brain and body on high alert. These reactions are automatic responses, and include both hormonal and behavioral patterns, but may also have some individual variation.

When a person is in this state of high stress, it is natural to focus her attention on the most immediate aspect of the threat —at the expense of other details—. Therefore, the peripheral details fade away, in terms of our attention. Extreme stress may in some individuals, especially in those who have been traumatized several times at an early age, led to a form of stress reaction where the person “disconnects”, that is, psychologically, escapes the situation and thus becomes less aware and attentive. This is often termed “dissociation”, and describes the situation with low level of consciousness, indicating less likelihood that information be encoded in the way it would otherwise be. This has an impact on what we are able to recall after the event has taken place, or the fact so to speak.

What further aggravates the situation is what is termed “mental avoidance”, that is, the tendency to avoid anything that resembles or triggers the traumatic event. This means avoidance both of activities, places and thought about the event. This is also one of the “hallmarks” of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. Fragmented memories and difficulties in recalling memories, must be understood in the context of dissociation, physiological reactions and avoidance. The problems that victims may face in such situations, and their difficulties in replying “adequately” may be the reason for which they are discredited or disbelieved.

By being aware of this, how human memory often functions in the aftermath of traumatic events, —including the pain involved in revisiting such events for the victim—, is vital for law enforcement, family members, friends and others involved with survivors. This may contribute to a better understanding and reduce risk of additional stressors in relation to narrating difficult experiences.

As a closing remark, the most important take-home lesson —from work with women who have survived severe human rights abuses and are facing challenges in the care system as well as in the legal system—, is the following: for a fair process to take place, a good dialogue, room for listening and exploring in respectful ways, and showing respect to the dignity and integrity of the person subjected to violence, are of utmost importance.

And finally, our main focus must always be on the prevention of such violence, on combating that these abuses happen and on the process of holding those responsible to account.


Further Reading on Fair Trials for Survivors of Rape

  • Tonic immobility during sexual assault - a common reaction predicting post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression.
    Anna Möller, Hans Peter Söndergaard, Lotti Helström June, 2017
    Active resistance is considered to be the 'normal' reaction during rape. However, studies have indicated that similar to animals, humans exposed to extreme threat may react with a state of involuntary, temporary motor inhibition known as tonic immobility. The aim of the present study was to assess the occurrence of tonic immobility during rape and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression.

  • The impact of trauma on the brain, experience, behavior and memory
    Jim Hopper, Ph.D., April, 2016
    This article provides an introduction to the impact of trauma on memory and recollection, including how traumatic events may affect an individual’s ability to recall or give proper sequence to details, including information that an objective observer (and even the victim/survivor/complainant) would deem vital and seemingly “unforgettable.”

  • Animation (video) - Trauma and the Brain: Understanding abuse survivors responses NHS Lanarkshire
    Abuse is a traumatic experience. When a person experiences abuse, their responses to protect them – in the short and longer term – are instinctive. Knowing how and why means that you can recognise these responses and be more effective in what you do.

  • Sexual Assault & the Brain
    Jim Hopper
    Why are memories of sexual assault so often fragmentary and confusing? The answer has big implications for people who've been sexually assaulted, for those who investigate and prosecute such crimes, and for everyone else who knows or works with someone who's been sexually assaulted.

  • Transcript "The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault"
    Rebecca Campbell, Ph.D. December, 2012
    Dr. Campbell discuss the research on the neurobiology of trauma and the criminal justice system response to sexual assault. She will explain the underlying neurobiology of traumatic events, its emotional and physical manifestation, and how these processes can impact the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.

  • What Sexual Assault Does To The Brain
    Carolyne Gregoire, The Huffington Post. Dec. 2014
    There are more complications to proper recall: “We may become hyper focused on what we perceive to be the threatening stimuli,” said Lisak. “Very often when we become focused on that, we lose attention to everything else. So the peripheral details really fade away in terms of our attention. That has an impact on what we recall after the fact.”

  • Prosecuting sexual assault: 'Raped all over again'
    The Guardian. April, 2013
    The process of telling a crowded court what had happened to her was profoundly upsetting. " You don't have to bring back the memories – they don't go away – but it is difficult to talk about them because of the shame you feel as a victim."

  • How Brain Science Can Help Explain Discrepancies in a Sexual Assault Survivor’s Story
    Cognitive Neuroscience Society, December 2014
    The rate of false report in sexual violence is actually low, estimated by most studies to be around 7 percent (to compare, this is considerably lower than the rate of insurance fraud). Moreover, research shows that sexual violence is in fact underreported.

  • Why Rape and Trauma Survivors Have Fragmented and Incomplete Memories
    James Hopper and David Lisak, December 2014
    In states of high stress, fear or terror like combat and sexual assault, the prefrontal cortex is impaired– sometimes even effectively shut down– by a surge of stress chemicals.

  • The Neuroscience of Trauma from Sexual Assault
    Cognitive Neuroscience Society, May 2015
    A relatively new area of the literature on human response to trauma, particularly the trauma experienced during sexual violence, is that of “tonic immobility.” Defined as self-paralysis, or as the inability to move even when not forcibly restrained, tonic immobility has long been studied in non-human animals as the “freeze” response to extreme stress.

Are you familiar with HHRI GBV manual?

The training manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict also known as “HHRI GBV Manual” is a tool on approaches and techniques that address the psychological needs of survivors of gender-based violence. It is a tool to approach survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence in contexts of disasters, conflicts and emergency situations, where access to health professionals with psychological or psychiatric expertise usually is very limited.

The Arabic, Russian and Spanish versions of our training manual is available for free. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual it. Please note that complementary to the GBV Manual, we have developed a tool box which you also can accessed for free in English, Spanish, Korean, Georgian and Romanian if you visit our GBV manual web page.

Facebook

Please check out our HHRI Facebook page and click like. we are continuously posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web There you will find new and relevant articles newsletters and videos.

Upcoming events


We appreciate feedback and comments

In order to improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons subjected to human rights violations, we would highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter or your evidence-base practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

Sincerely yours

Health and Human Rights Info
Silvia Gurrola Bonilla
Project Coordinator
post@hhri.org
www.hhri.org

To the top

 

 

 


NEWSLETTER NO.5/2017 December 14th

Rape within the migration journey


Dear friends and colleagues

“Women and girls who risk sexual violence as they flee their home countries are getting contraceptive injections as a precautionary measure. For someone to know that they are at such risk of sexual violence, and yet they are determined to continue on that journey.”

Hillary Margolis, New York-based Human Rights Watch

Migrant and refugee women and girls are at risk of sexual violence throughout their entire journey, on their way to find refuge or reunite with their beloved ones. A study from 2014 estimated that around 21% of women in 14 conflict countries reported sexual violence. According to the UNHCR many women and girls who are fleeing their homes because of fear of being sexually assaulted, still encounter that same fate on their journey to freedom. For instance, there are estimations that up to 80% of women and girls from Central America crossing Mexico into the US have been raped.

Rape, often occurs in combination with physical, emotional or socio-economic violence and the lack of information and unnecessary detention also put migrating women at increased risk for sexual violence. According to a study conducted in 2012, 66.3% of female migrants, including refugees, have experienced sexual violence after having entered Europe. Furthermore, such acts were often perpetrated by European professionals or citizens. This is in stark contrast to the 11% lifetime prevalence of sexual violence in European girls and women aged over 15 and indicates the possible magnitude of the issue of sexual violence against refugee and migrant women in Europe.

And we should never forget that sexual violence is also directed towards men and boys before, during or after migration -including detention-. In general, there have been less focus on this form of violence against men and, when it is addressed, it is described or defined as torture, as it may happen as part of interrogation, arrest or punishment. Methods of torture, inflicted both on women and men, often attack sexuality as this may have particular serious repercussions on those who are victimized (Genefke, I.K. 1986.)

Despite various reports calling for action and for better ways of addressing the survivors acute; situation and condition, no comprehensive response is in place, limited assistance is provided, and the problem often not recognized by aid workers. Moreover, a weak coordination between government and humanitarian actors and language barriers challenge a gender-sensitive response. Thus, referral to relevant GBV services where mental health support and information about their rights is hardly provided. As a consequence of poor protective measures, people remain in unsafe passages to their destiny with limited or no assistance to reunite with their families. This increases the risk of exploitation by traffickers and smugglers.

Sexual violence can result in unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and can adversely affect the mental health of those exposed to this form of violence, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. In addition, stigma and shame associated with rape, in many cultures, can lead to underreporting of cases, social rejection, suicide or murder of women and girls by family or community members.

Those subjected to sexual violence require immediate emotional and physical health support and protection. Sexual violence guidelines specific for migrants and refugees recommend confidentiality, providing safety and protection from further suffering, as well as acting in the best interest and according to the wishes of the victim.


Further reading on rape within the migration journey

  • Gender-Based Violence against Women: Both Cause for Migration and Risk along the Journey
    Migration Policy institute 2017
    Each year, countless women and children flee violence at home and take an uncertain journey in the hope of finding safety in a new country. While many escape conflict zones or generalized human-rights abuses, some also run from more intimate forms of violence—namely, sexual and domestic violence perpetrated by men. Setting off on the journey is no guarantee of safety; many are vulnerable to gender-based abuse in transit and even at destination.

  • Women migrants fearing rape take contraceptives before journey – rights groups
    Thomson Reuters Foundation, 2017
    Women migrants fleeing wars, political instability and poverty are taking contraceptives in the expectation of being raped but are so desperate they still embark on the journey, a human rights group said on Wednesday.

  • Women in detention: a guide to gender-sensitive monitoring
    Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), 2017
    In this paper, "Women in detention" is addressed to monitoring bodies responsible for the external scrutiny of places of deprivation of liberty. It outlines the risks faced by women deprived of their liberty of being subjected to torture and ill-treatment and measures that can be taken to reduce such risks.

  • Sexual violence against refugee women on the move to and within Europe
    WHO European Region, 2017
    The objective of this overview is to present the issue of sexual violence (SV) against refugee women and girls and to discuss countermeasures that have been suggested or initiated by the Member States of the WHO European Region and national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) between January 2015 and May 2016. A literature review was undertaken using Google scholar, the WHO publication database and a cross-search of journal databases.

  • I didn´t Have Anywhere to Run: Migrant Women Are Facing a Rape Epidemic
    Anna-Cat Brigida, 2016
    An estimated 60 to 80 percent of female migrants from Central America are sexually assaulted on their journey—and perpetrators often act with total impunity. As thousands of Central American women weigh the risks of migrating to the US each year, they must take into account an extra peril: An estimated 80 percent of female migrants from Central America are victims of sexual abuse at the hands of criminal groups, human smugglers, or corrupt officials during the journey.

  • New report: women refugees at risk in Europe
    Novel´s Women Initiative, 2015
    The report finds that women are vulnerable a bottleneck points along the route, and even more vulnerable when they reach reception centres that do not have secure and separate sleeping areas for women. Women also experience sexual violence at alarming rates and there is currently 100% impunity for gender-based crimes committed against refugee women. High numbers of refugee women are pregnant with no access to pre- or post-natal care.

  • INITIAL ASSESSMENT REPORT: Protection Risks for Women and Girls in the European Refugee and Migrant Crisis
    UNCHR, 2015
    For the first time since World War II, Europe is experiencing a massive movement of refugees and migrants, women, girls, men and boys of all ages, fleeing armed conflicts, mass killings, persecution and pervasive sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Many seek refuge in Europe from the ongoing armed conflicts that have torn apart their societies, and are entitled to protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention, its subsequent Protocol, and other international instruments.

  • 80% of Central American women and girls are raped crossing to the US
    IMPACT, September 2014
    According to a stunning Fusion investigation, 80 percent of women and girls crossing into the U.S. by way of Mexico are raped during their journey. That’s up from a previous estimate of 60 percent, according to an Amnesty International report. Through May, the number of unaccompanied girls younger than 18 caught at the US-Mexico border increased by 77 percent.

  • What the eye does not see: a critical interpretive synthesis of European Union policies addressing sexual violence in vulnerable migrants
    Ines Keygnaert & Aurore Guieu, 2015
    In Europe, refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants are more vulnerable to sexual victimisation than European citizens. They face more challenges when seeking care. This literature review examines how legal and policy frameworks at national, European and international levels condition the prevention of and response to sexual violence affecting these vulnerable migrant communities living in the European Union.

  • Hidden violence is silent rape: sexual and gender-based violence in refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands
    Ines Keygnaert, 2012
    Although women, young people and refugees are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) worldwide, little evidence exists concerning SGBV against refugees in Europe. Using community-based participatory research, 223 in-depth interviews were conducted with refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands. Responses were analysed using framework analysis.

  • Sexual Violence and Migration The hidden reality of Sub-Saharan women trapped in Morocco en route to Europe
    MSF 2013
    The exact proportions of sexual violence are impossible to measure, yet MSF’s medical data reveals that it is a problem of alarming proportions. Information provided by our patients reveals the high risk of sexual violence throughout the migration process, with survivors experiencing rape and other forms of sexual violence by numerous different perpetrators in their countries of origin, in route and in Morocco itself.

Are you familiar with HHRI GBV manual?

The training manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict also known as “HHRI GBV Manual” is a tool on approaches and techniques that address the psychological needs of survivors of gender-based violence. It is a tool to approach survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence in contexts of disasters, conflicts and emergency situations, where access to health professionals with psychological or psychiatric expertise usually is very limited.

The Arabic, Russian and Spanish versions of our training manual is available for free. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual it. Please note that complementary to the GBV Manual, we have developed a tool box which you also can accessed for free in English, Spanish, Korean, Georgian and Romanian if you visit our GBV manual web page. We would like to encourage you direct your questions or feedback to us through our e-mail.

Become a member of the International Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR)!

The International Society for Health and Human Rights is an international network of professionals, specialists, civil society stakeholders, advocates, and students who are committed to promoting human rights, and delivering health services to survivors of human rights violations, and to other vulnerable communities. For over 30 years, ISHHR has been dedicated to bringing together these likeminded individuals to exchange knowledge, experience, developments, research, and to informally network with one another.

ISHHR membership costs €10, and will remain valid for 3 years. The benefits of being an ISHHR member include being a part of a global network, as well as gaining exclusive access to discounts, and special offers at the next ISHHR Conference. Sign the membership form and return it to coordinator@ishhr.com

Facebook

Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI Facebook page we are continuously posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

Upcoming events


We appreciate feedback and comments

In order to improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons subjected to human rights violations, we would highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter or your evidence-base practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.
With all of our heart we wish you a joyful 2018 with improved conditions for peace, justice and human rights for all.

Sincerely yours

Health and Human Rights Info
Silvia Gurrola Bonilla and Elisabeth Ng Langdal
post@hhri.org
www.hhri.org

To the top

 

 

 

NEWSLETTER NO.4/2017 November 27th

Enforced disappearances


“Enforced disappearance is a shameful practice and a crime under international human rights law, whether it is used to repress political dissent, combat organized crime or carried out under the guise of fighting terrorism.”

Suela Janina, Chair of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Dear friends and colleagues

Enforced disappearance is a global problem, not restricted to a specific region of the world. The figures differ, some reports say that as many as 100 000 might be missing in Colombia and after the war in the Balkans in the 1990s almost 15 000 people remain unaccounted for. In Peru the number of people missing is 15 000, Nepal 1300, El Salvador 9000 and so it continues.

In December 2006 the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from enforced Disappearance, was adopted and it entered into force in 2007. The Convention is now signed by 49 states and ratified by 58. Every day people go missing, and thousands of people are forcedly disappeared, every year due to circumstances such as internal conflict, or as a means of political repression of persons in opposition to the dominant political power. The threats that are directed towards human rights defenders, witnesses and lawyers fighting the practice of enforced disappearances, are very serious and must be reacted to. Also, relatives of victims of enforced disappearance are unsecure and under threat. On the 30 of August each year the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances commemorates the International Day of the Disappeared. All over the world, events are organized by the families and associations of victims to remember those that have suffered the terrible fate of being disappeared, often with impunity for those who are responsible.

An important aspect of this, and something which could need more attention is the mental health situation for family members, relatives and friends of persons disappeared. The uncertainty that the relatives are living with, is extremely stressful and are scars or open wounds that may threaten the psychological health of those involved. For many this represents serious psychological trauma or even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The terror and trauma of living without the beloved ones who have disappeared, are described by in the article of Margriet Blaauw and Virpi Lähteenmäki "Denial and silence’ or ‘acknowledgement and disclosure" and in the book of Paz Rojas Baeza La interminable ausencia. Estudio médico, psicológico y político de la desaparición forzada de personas, ("The neverending absence. A medical, psychological and political study on enforced disappearances of persons", the book is only in Spanish). In which, the consequences for the family and the community, where enforced disappearances are described and discussed from a psychosocial health point of view.

“The disappeared are denied a place among the living and also denied a place among the dead.”

Shari Eppel, Amani Trust Zimbabwe.

The lack of a body to mourn similarly causes serious psychological distress amongst the relatives. Without the possibility to identify the loved one, and provide a burial and a last farewell for those lost, the relatives cannot grieve in the way that seemed right to them, or adjust to the loss, reorganize the future and go on with their lives.

Often the person that has been forcefully disappeared is the breadwinner in the family. Thus the loss is made worse by lack of income. Without a death certificate it is difficult to acquire the rights that they are entitled to, in the form of pensions or compensations. Forced disappearances, constitute in all possible ways, one of the most severe human rights violations, forcing both victims and families into long-lasting suffering, with strong psychological and social consequences, even over generations.

There are several organizations that work with the human rights of disappeared persons and their families:

Get assistance - from the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

Under article 30 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearances, it states that the Committee has competence to receive and consider requests for urgent action submitted by the relatives of a disappeared person or their legal representatives, their counsel or any person authorized by them, as well as by any other person having a legitimate interest, that seek to ensure that the State party take, as a matter of urgency, all necessary measures to seek and find a disappeared person.

  • Guidance for the submission of a request for urgent action to the Committee in several languages

  • Download forms to submit urgent requests to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
  • Further reading on enforced or involuntary disappearances

    • Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
      OHCHR, Fact Sheet 6/Rev.3, July 2009
      A disappearance has a doubly paralysing impact: on the victims, frequently tortured and in constant fear for their lives, and on their families, ignorant of the fate of their loved ones, their emotions alternating between hope and despair, wondering and waiting, sometimes for years, for news that may never come. The victims are well aware that their families do not know what has become of them and that the chances are slim that anyone will come to their aid.

    • No place for enforced disappearances in 2017, UN experts say
      OHCHR, October 2017
      Enforced disappearance should not exist in the 21st century, but reports of the “heinous” crime continue to be received in unacceptably high numbers, two UN experts* say, stressing that the cases they receive represent only a small percentage of a much worse and gruesome reality.

    • No More “Missing Persons”: The Criminalization of Enforced Disappearance in South Asia
      International Commission of Jurists, August 2017
      This report analyzes States’ obligations under international law to ensure acts of enforced disappearance constitute a distinct, autonomous offence under national law. It also provides an overview of the practice of enforced disappearance, focusing specifically on the status of the criminalization of the practice, in five South Asian countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal

    • Missing Persons: A Handbook for Parliamentarians
      ICRC, 2009
      Disappearances are a tragedy not just for the individual but also for families, who are left in the dark. Not knowing what has become of a husband or wife, child, father, mother, brother or sister is a source of terrible anguish for countless families affected by armed conflict or internal violence all over the world.

    • We Need the Truth: Enforced Disappearances in Asia
      Katharina Lauritsch, 2010
      People working in several countries with families of enforced disappeared persons, came together and write jointly an article about the situation of enforced disappearances in their countries, explaining the political and historical background, the current context and sharing some thoughts about future perspectives.

    • Enforced Disappearances - An Information Guide for Human Rights Defenders and CSOs
      Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) January 2016
      This publication speaks about enforced disappearances and underscores why it is an important issue of human rights concerns globally. It begins by seeking to demystify the phenomenon of “disappearance” itself, exploring the various circumstances in which people disappear, thereby disaggregating the various scenarios into categories of disappearance.

    • International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
      PART I. Article 1
      1. No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance. 2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance

    • Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
      UN General Assembly, December 1992
      Considering that enforced disappearance undermines the deepest values of any society committed to respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and that the systematic practice of such acts is of the nature of a crime against humanity

    • Inter/American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons (1994)
      Article I. The States Parties to this Convention undertake:
      a. Not to practice, permit, or tolerate the forced disappearance of persons, even in states of emergency or suspension of individual guarantees; b. To punish within their jurisdictions, those persons who commit or attempt to commit the crime of forced disappearance of persons and their accomplices and accessories; c. To cooperate with one another in helping to prevent, punish, and eliminate the forced disappearance of persons; d. To take legislative, administrative, judicial, and any other measures necessary to comply with the commitments undertaken in this Convention.

    • Between prison and the grave enforced disappearances in Syria
      Amnesty November 2015
      Amnesty International’s research shows that the enforced disappearances carried out by the Syrian government since 2011 were perpetrated as part of an organized attack against the civilian population that has been widespread, as well as systematic, and therefore amount to crimes against humanity.

    • Toward a Better Understanding of Psychological Symptoms in People Confronted with the Disappearance of a Loved One
      A Systematic Review. Lonneke I. M et al. 2017
      The small number of studies and the heterogeneity of the studies limit the understanding of psychopathology in those left behind. More knowledge about psychopathology post disappearance could be gained by expanding the focus of research beyond disappearances due to war or state terrorism.


    The international Day of on the Elimination of Violence Against Women

    In the context of the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against women 25th of November, we just want to remind you of our GBV manual and how to access it. The Arabic, Russian and Spanish versions of our training manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict is available for free. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mailexplaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual it. Our sponsors have kindly covered the printing and mailing costs. A few weeks after sending the manual, we will send you a link to a Google questionnaire. We hope you can give us a few minutes to provide us with your feedback on your experience in using the manual and how you applied it in your working practice. please note that complementary to the GBV Manual, we have developed a tool box which you also can accessed for free in English, Spanish, Korean, Georgian and Romanian if you visit our GBV manual web page. We would like to encourage you direct your questions or feedback to us through our e-mail.

    Facebook

    Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI Facebook page we are continuously posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

    Upcoming events


    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

    To improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter, as well as relevant publications, your lessons learned and best practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

    We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues, especially, in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    post@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

    To the top

     

     

     






    NEWSLETTER NO.3/2017 SEPTEMBER 20TH

    HHRI Gender Based Violence Manual Now Available in More Languages


    HHRI has developed a manual in order to provide input, tools and ways of working and assisting women who have been exposed to sexual violence in conflict… the idea is to provide something practical and easily accessible to those who are working in the field. The strength of the manual is that it is based on a human rights perspective, standards and values and it is gender oriented to respond to a very specific form of trauma: sexual violence.

    Nora Sveaass, Chair of the Board at HHRI. June 2017

    Dear friends and colleagues

    Health and Human Rights Info. (HHRI) has just released the Arabic, Russian and Spanish versions of our training manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict also known as “HHRI GBV Manual”.

    As some of you know, this tool is not a therapy manual, but a training manual on approaches and techniques that address the psychological needs of survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). It is a tool for helpers assisting and providing care to individuals who are exposed to this form of violence. It focuses especially on ways of understanding how trauma affects the lives of survivors, and how we can assist them in getting a better understanding themselves of their own reactions. At the same time, it focuses on the strengths, resilience and resources. The manual presents ways of approaching women exposed to rape and other forms of sexual violence in contexts of disasters, conflicts and emergency situations, where access to health professionals with psychological or psychiatric expertise usually is very limited.

    It may also supplement and deepen the understanding of trauma and its consequences for health workers, who already have knowledge and experience. It may be a tool for helpers who train other helpers and for groups of helpers who need self-study materials. The manual can be read, studied or discussed, and the exercises it contains can be tested and applied in groups working on the subject.

    The manual explores the psychological meaning of trauma and how traumatic events affect mental health. It describes the signs of severe stress as well as information on how these reactions can be assessed and understood. It offers advice on how helpers can approach women immediately following GBV, respecting their own limits, and how to deal with the distress they are experiencing. In particular, the creation of safe spaces that permit supportive dialogue and ways of stabilizing and “grounding” a person feeling fear and anxiety. The manual also describes how the survivor can be prepared to report a violation with an emphasis on ensuring the rights and safety of those involved, and the importance of supporting a woman in such a situation.

    The editions in more languages, in addition to the original one in English, came as a request of helpers who have tried the original tool and found it useful, in countries such as Lebanon, Cambodia, Colombia, Sudan, Iraq, Rumania, Papua New Guinea, Norway, and Turkey. Through the availability of the manual in these key languages, HHRI hopes to assist many helpers around the world and, ultimately, provide hope and basic, but critical, mental health assurance to survivors in greater need.

    These translations into languages has meant a great effort, and it would not have been possible without the very generous assistance and contribution done by UNHCR and Norwegian Church Aid. We are warmly indebted to their great support to make it possible.

    Furthermore, in June 2017, HHRI initiated a training of trainers in order to increase its capacities to respond to requests from different entities -inside Norway and abroad- who wish to use the manual and, finally, we have also conducted trainings on skype, in order to reach more people close to where they work, and we hope to develop this methodology further.

    Further reading on HHRI GBV Manual

    • Video interview with Nora Sveaass on HHRI GBV Manual
      Human Rights House Foundation/Oslo office. June, 2017
      “The Manual is clearly gender orientated... that does not mean that some of the information on trauma is not useable in other forms of traumatic events or contexts where violations occur. I am thinking especially about human rights defenders who may be exposed to reprisals of different sorts, and many of them may be survivors of severe human rights violations as well.”

    • HHRI Gender based Violence Manual Report
      April, 2017
      The manual was developed by clinical psychologists and researchers associated with Health and Human Rights Info. Preliminary training sessions have been conducted in Jordan, Cambodia, Colombia, Turkey and Norway. Further face-to-face trainings have taken place in Norway, Sudan, Iraq, Colombia, Romania as well as a webinar focusing on helpers related to the Syrian crisis. The last training happend in Tbilisi, Georgia. Health and Human Rights Info held a joint training seminar with the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT) at Human Rights House Tbilisi from 11 to 13 September 2017. Twenty-three professionals - doctors, psychologist and social workers – benefited from the training on working with survivors of GBV.

    • A webinar based on the training manual
      September, 2016
      This e-training material is based on the manual and will give an introduction to how you can use the manual and arrange a training by yourself. The manual has been written for the many people who in different ways provide direct assistance to women who survive gender-based and sexual trauma during disasters, wars and conflicts, where helpers have limited or no access to specialized health services. Listen to all 6 sessions and answer the final reflection to apply for a certificate.

    • Presentation of HHRI GBV Manual
      November, 2016
      If you are working with survivors, or involved in training of helpers working directly with survivors or in other ways engaged in the topic of assisting survivors of gender based violence, we hope that the manual can be useful for you.

    • Thematic pages
      This is in addition to the database. Here we have gathered selective information essential to the different topics. The topics have been chosen on the basis of their actuality, relevance and importance. Here you can also find a thematic page on Torture with Russian links

    How to access HHRI GBV manual

    If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual. Our sponsors have graciously covered the costs of printing as well as shipping of the manual. In return, we would highly appreciate if you could provide us with feedback on how you used the manual; in training; as part of supervision; or in any other way that facilitated your work/helped the beneficiaries. A few weeks after you have received the manual, we will send you a link to a google questionnaire covering these issues. We hope that you will be able to spend some minutes to give us some feedback on your experience of using the manual and how it was applied in practice. Also, please note that complementary to the GBV Manual, we have developed a tool box which you also can accessed for free in English, Spanish, Korean, Georgian and Romanian if you visit our GBV manual web page. We would like to encourage you direct your questions or feedback to us through our e-mail.

    Featuring an additional tool

    Women's rights country by country - interactive
    Which countries have laws preventing violence? Which legislate for gender equality? And which countries allow abortion? Using World Bank and UN data we offer a snapshot of women's rights across the globe. Select a region and hover over a country to see how it has legislated for violence, harassment, abortion, property and employment rights, discrimination and equality. Click on a country to tweet a message on the figures. Country data can be viewed in relation to its population size and those of its neighbouring states.

    Introduction of our new Project coordinator for the Spanish speaking readers

    We are proud to announce Silvia Gurrola Bonilla as our Project coordinator for our work in the Latin American and Spanish speaking region. Silvia is a pedagogue with a post degree in psychotherapy with over 19 years of experience in managing, coordinating, and providing technical assistance to Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Eastern Europe with expertise on gender-related issues such as: gender assessments, gender mainstreaming, gender-based violence (GBV), women and girls´ empowerment and masculinities. Her main area of responsibility at the HHRI now is being in charge of the work with the GBV manual and adapting it for application in Spanish-speaking countries, maintain the Spanish part of our data search engine and our thematic pages. Silvia is happy to receive any feedback, comments and ideas regarding her engagement with these issues.

    Facebook

    Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI Facebook page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

    Upcoming events

    • The 10th International Society for Health and Human Rights - ISHHR Conference
      “Mental health, mass people displacement and ethnic minorities”
      26th - 29th September, in Novi Sad, Serbia 2017
      The title of the 2017 ISHHR Conference is “Mental health, mass people displacement and ethnic minorities” and it will focus on the displacement of communities as a result of conflict, the phenomenon of mass-traumatisation and the response of the European neighbourhood (particularly Central Europe) to the mass influx from the Middle East and North Africa (particularly as a result of the Syrian crisis). However, we will also welcome contributions from experts and speakers in Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, as mass people displacement and migration is a global challenge. While the event is targeted at psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and other support workers, the conference also aims to build the capacity of medical doctors, researchers, advocates, journalists, students and individuals working in the field of refugee support, civil society and community development. Nora Sveaass and Elisabeth Langdal will conduct a workshop based on HHRI GBV manual during the conference.

    • El Foro SVRI
      Talleres pre-conferencia a realizarse el lunes 18 de septiembre de 2017.
    • 6th European Conference on Mental Health
      Berlin, Germany, October 4-6, 2017
    • ESTD Conference
      "Child abuse & neglect: challenges for therapy, prevention & justice"
      November 9 - 11, 2017 Berne, Switzerland
    • World Mental Health Day
      10th October 2017
    • 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence
      November 25 - December 10, 2017

    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

    To improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter, as well as relevant publications, your lessons learned and best practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

    We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues, especially, in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    post@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

    To the top

     

     

     

    NEWSLETTER NO.2/2017 MAY 24TH

    Male rape, a hidden atrocity in wartime and conflict


    In no other area is our collective failure to ensure effective protection for civilians more apparent… than in terms of the masses of women and girls, but also boys and men, whose lives are destroyed each year by sexual violence perpetrated in conflict

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 2007

    Dear friends and colleagues

    Sexual violence is one of the most horrific weapons of war used against women. And men are also becoming subjects of this horrendous human rights violation which, at times, reaches endemic proportions in wartime and conflicts.

    HHRI acknowledges that women are more frequent targets of this horrific crime and, at the same time, through this edition, we wish to present the evidence that sexual violence against men is becoming a more frequent occurrence in context of war and conflict. Therefore, it must be addressed as a serious human rights violation, and one with devastating mental health consequences.

    Perhaps male rape is one of the most hidden atrocities of war. This may be so because it is denied or kept secret, given that both the perpetrator and the victim enter into a form of “conspiracy of silence”. However, when the stories are unveiled, those who have been victims to these crimes risk losing the support of those around them. Male survivors of sexual violence are often disdained and marginalized by their own communities. In patriarchal societies, a man who has been exposed to this type of violence may be seen as a “women”, and given stereotypical gender-role definitions, no man is allowed to be vulnerable.

    Further, there has been a failure, including human rights advocates and states, in acknowledging the problem described. As Lara Stemple –one of the few academics to have looked into the issue– states: “There are well over one hundred uses of the term ‘violence against women’ – defined to include sexual violence – in U.N. resolutions, treaties, general comments, and other documents.” While this statement remains relevant, it must be acknowledged that until recently (2012) the UN, started to address this issue. For instance, the UN Agency for Refugees, UNHCR, developed some guidelines to address the needs of men and boy survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (see list of related literature below).

    Stemple´s study Male Rape and Human Rights presents cases of male rape used as weapon of war or political aggression in a number of countries, such as Chile, Greece, Croatia, Iran, Kuwait, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia .

    The belief that rape cannot happen to men is of course a false one. The increasing number of reported incidences underlines that male rape is a huge problem. The overview over literature on this issue listed above, underscores this serious situation.

    The men affected suffer not only deep physical and emotional traumas, but many may become socially ostracized, isolated and often at risk of danger, and rejected by family and friends. Also, there is the chance that their spouses may abandon them because they do not see them as “real men” any more.

    We know today that helping services supporting female survivors often do not address male survivors, maybe because they are not sensitized, trained or equipped to deal with their needs, in particular when they chose to give up their “secret” and talk about the violence. Given the seriousness of this situation, it is of priority to break the silence and create the opportunity for raped men to speak up and be protected and supported.

    Those of us working with the psychological consequences of human rights abuses should strengthen our commitment and readiness to help male survivors. In this way, we will strengthen our understanding and ability to fight against human rights abuses perpetrated on all victims, men, women and children alike.

    On this regard, HHRI will be proactive addressing this important matter by including GBV perpetrated on male as a subject on its database , and will aim to include a module in its manual: Mental health and gender-based violence, Helping Survivors of sexual violence in conflict (GBV Manual), in order to give basic, but crucial, psychosocial support to male survivors of sexual violence in the context of war and conflict.

    Further reading on male GBV as a weapon of war

    • Male victims of sexual violence: war's silent sufferers
      Allan Ngari, Institute for Security Studies (ISS). 2016
      Sexual violence is a tactic of war, used to humiliate, dominate and instill fear. It is also increasingly being used as a tactic of terrorism. While the focus has largely been on women and girls as victims of sexual violence, boys and men are equally at risk. Sexual violence against men and boys takes on a range of heinous acts, including anal and oral rape, genital torture, castration and coercion to rape others. Many of these acts are seen as emasculating, and while many male victims are willing to give accounts of what they witnessed, they are less likely to express what they themselves had experienced in conflict.

    • Identifying and Responding to Urban Refugees’ Risks of Gender-Based Violence Men and Boys, Including Male Survivors
      Women´s Refugee Commission (WRC). 2016
      Throughout 2015, WRC conducted a research in urban settings, the first phase of a multi-year project to improve the humanitarian community’s understanding of and response to GBV risks in urban contexts. Quito, Ecuador; Beirut, Lebanon; Kampala, Uganda; and Delhi, India, were chosen because they are host to diverse refugee populations, have different policy environments for refugees, and are at different stages of humanitarian response. The project looked separately at the GBV risks of different urban refugee subpopulations: women; children and adolescents; LGBTI individuals; persons with disabilities; and male survivors of sexual violence.

    • Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
      Christopher Anderson, American Psychological Association. 2015
      Common Types of and Prevalence Estimates for Exposure to Traumatic Stressors. Within the U.S. as many as 1 in 4 males will experience some form of sexual abuse during their lifetime. The number of males who are sexually abused during military service is greater than the number of female service members. As many as 50% of the children who are sex trafficked in the US are males.

    • Male Rape Victims in the Lord’s Resistance Army war and the Conflict in Eastern Congo
      Linda Lanyero Omona, International Institute for Social Studies. December, 2014
      Sexual violence against men in Uganda is an underreported crime. Sexual violence against men is considered a taboo in most cultures. It is an issue not talked about because many consider the rape of men nearly impossible. It is clear that men have also been victims of rape in armed conflicts all over the world. The laws that define rape should be revised to include men and boys as victims of rape.

    • Working with men and boy survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in forced displacement
      United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2012
      Refugee men and boys can be subjected to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). Survivors have specific health, psychosocial, legal, and safety needs, but often find it hard to discuss their experience and access the support they need. The objectives of this note are to emphasise that programmes on SGBV need to include men and boys, and to provide guidance on how to access survivors, facilitate reporting, provide protection and deliver essential medical, legal and social services.

    • International Human Rights Law and Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Zones
      Tom Hennessey and Felicity Gerry, Halsbury´s Law Exchange.
      Sexual violence occurs in times of peace and of war. It takes place within committed relationships and between strangers, between people of any gender and sexuality, and for reasons that can be complex. However, despite common misconceptions, it is widely accepted amongst academics and charities that rape and other forms of sexual offences are usually about dominance and control rather than sexual gratification; a form of physical violence that has the power to fundamentally undermine the victim’s confidence and self-identity. Because of this, sexual violence is a common feature of war zones. As armies or militias struggle to assert their dominance, civilians within contested areas often find themselves subjected to widespread sexual abuse. The result is fear, humiliation and trauma.

    • Working with men and boys survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in forced displacement
      UNCHR, 2012
      Refugee men and boys can be subjected to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). Survivors have specific health, psychosocial, legal, and safety needs, but often find it hard to discuss their experience and access the support they need. It is important that UNHCR and its partners take steps to address these difficulties. The objectives of this note are to emphasise that programmes on sexual and gender based violence need to include men and boys, and to provide guidance on how to access survivors, facilitate reporting, provide protection and deliver essential medical, legal and social services.

    • In some refugee groups, more than one in three men are said to have suffered sexual violence
      Katie, Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation. May, 2014
      Sexual violence against men is one of the least told aspects of war. Yet men and boys are victims too of abuse that is frequently more effective at destroying lives and tearing communities apart than guns alone. It can take the form of anal and oral rape, genital torture, castration, gang rape, sexual slavery and the forced rape of others. It is so taboo that few survivors have the courage to tell their story. Besides feeling ashamed and afraid of being ostracised, many victims dare not challenge powerful myths about male rape in their cultures, experts say. A common belief is that a man who is raped becomes a woman.

    • Hope in the Shadows: Male Victims of Sexual Assault in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
      Miya Cain, Harvard Kennedy School. 2014
      As a result of ongoing conflict, poverty and instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congolese men and women have been subjected to various forms of sexual violence by warring rebel militia, government forces, and noncombatants. Most humanitarian aid, money, and international attention supports female victims of sexual violence, but male victims are largely left in the shadows. Simplified narratives of gender violence often define men as “villains” and women as “victims.” This narrative aligns with traditional conceptions of gender roles; however, the oversimplification often leaves male victims overlooked by policy responses designed to address sexual violence.

    • UNHCR issues guidelines on protection of male rape victims
      United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). October, 2012
      Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against men and boys has generally been mentioned as a footnote in reports. There are no detailed statistics on the number of male victims of SGBV but, the phenomenon is increasingly being recognized as a protection concern in conflict and forced displacement situations. Despite the prevailing taboo, there had been progress over the last decade in reporting of incidents.

    • Access to Justice for Male Victims of Sexual Violence; Focus on Refugees in Uganda
      Meg McMahon, Legal Aid Board.
      Sexual violence against men has garnered increasing publicity in recent years[2] but still remains extremely under-researched and under-reported. This paper will examine the challenges facing male victims of sexual violence. The paper will look at the broad international framework, including definitions of sexual violence and international jurisprudence in the area as well as generally looking at how the term sexual or gender based violence has come to be associated with violence against women.

    • The rape of men: the darkest secret of war
      Will Storr, The Guardian. July 2011
      Sexual violence is one of the most horrific weapons of war, an instrument of terror used against women. Yet huge numbers of men are also victims. In this harrowing report, Will Storr travels to Uganda to meet traumatised survivors, and reveals how male rape is endemic in many of the world's conflicts. Of all the secrets of war, there is one that is so well kept that it exists mostly as a rumour. It is usually denied by the perpetrator and his victim. Governments, aid agencies and human rights defenders at the UN barely acknowledge its possibility.

    • Male Rape and Human Rights
      Lara Stemple, Program for the Study of Sexuality, Gender, Health and Human Rights, Columbia University. 2009
      For the last few decades, the prevailing approach to sexual violence in international human rights instruments has focused virtually exclusively on the abuse of women and girls. In the meantime, men have been abused and sexually humiliated during situations of armed conflict. Childhood sexual abuse of boys is alarmingly common.

    News related to the HHRI GBV- manual

    The Civil Society Development Foundation (CSDF) and HHRI conducted a training on the use of the Mental health and gender-based violence, Helping Survivors of sexual violence in conflict (GBV Manual) in Bucharest, Romania 11-13 April 2017. The 24 participants to the training, included representatives of Romanian NGOs working in the field of welfare and basic services for vulnerable people. The training aimed to promote a human rights approach in social services, with a focus on victims or persons at risk of violence and abuse (women, children etc.) and to develop capacity of Romanian NGOs for more efficient and specific interventions to answer the needs of vulnerable groups. Participants to the training appreciated both theoretical and practical tools and referred that gained knowledge and tools will be useful for their day-to-day work. Some of them, will reproduce the training to scale up the number of beneficiaries.

    The Arabic version and the second edition of the manual can be downloaded from our manual web page. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual. Our sponsors have graciously covered the costs of printing as well as shipping of the manual. In return, we would highly appreciate if you could provide us with feedback on how you used the manual; in training; as part of supervision; or in any other way that facilitated your work/helped the beneficiaries. A few weeks after you have received the manual, we will send you a link to a google questionnaire covering these issues. We hope that you will be able to spend some minutes to give us some feedback on your experience of using the manual and how it was applied in practice.

    Also, please note that complementary to the GBV Manual, we have developed a tool box which you also can accessed for free in English, Spanish and Romanian if you wisit our GBV manual web page.

    Facebook

    Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI Facebook page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

    Upcoming events


    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

    To improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter, as well as relevant publications, your lessons learned and best practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

    We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues, especially, in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    post@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

    To the top

     

     

     

    NEWSLETTER NO.1/2017 MARCH 8TH

    The strain of Woman Human Rights Defenders


    Being a woman and a woman´s human rights activist mean actively regaining
    my space and rights in places from which they are trying to exclude me”

    Lara Aharonian, Director of Women´s Resource Center HRH Yerevan, Armenia

    Dear friends and colleagues

    In her third report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, in chapter III, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, addresses the situation of women human rights defenders (WHRD). This includes both female human rights defenders, and any other human rights defenders who work in the defence of women’s rights or on gender issues. As we commemorate the International Women´s Day, we want to highlight the special circumstances that WHRD are living under and are exposed to, and at the same time honour them for their brave and important engagement to eradicate human rights violations of women and girls.

    It is essential to ensure that all human rights defenders, women and men, are protected and supported in their work, and that those who are engaged in defending the rights of women are fully recognized as human rights defenders.

    In many communities women, may be perceived as an extension of the community itself. When acting as a human right defenders, they can be exposed to different forms of reprisals, including being targeted with gender-based violence (GBV) or experience gender-specific risks. Furthermore, they can be subject to violence because they challenge existing norms and stereotypes within their communities. If a WHRD, because of her human rights work is exposed to GBV, such as rape, the community may also see that as a shame inflicted on the whole community. Therefore, she has to bear with the burden not only of the trauma as a consequence of the rape, but also with the shame she has “brought” on her community.

    State authorities are the most common perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders, despite the fact that they have the obligation to undertake the primary responsibility for assuring their protection. In addition, a variety of “non-State/official” actors also commit, or are implicated in violent acts against human rights defenders. Therefore, it is important that this form of violence ends and that perpetrators are held accountable for such acts.

    Thus, it is necessary not only to raise awareness of the danger and reprisals that WHRD are exposed to, but also to be conscious of the impact that such aggressions have on their lives and their activism. According to the AWID publication; ” it is necessary to adopt protection mechanisms that address the different needs and realities of WHRDs. Similarly, it is necessary to move away from the concept of protection solely focused on physical aspects, towards a more embracing understanding of protection that also addresses the need to create an enabling environment for WHRDs, in order to carry out their work safely”

    Further reading that highlight different aspects of Women Human Rights Defenders

    • Politicizing Self-Care and Wellbeing in Our Activism as Women Human Rights Defenders
      AWID 2015
      Stress, burn out, uncontrollable emotional outbursts, depression, anxiety, migraines and cancer, are some of the effects that human rights defense work has on WHRDs around the world, and the ones that often make them quit their important work. AWID spoke with Jessica Horn, Senior Advisor for the African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS (AIR) about the politics of self-care and well being for women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

    • Women human rights defenders and the struggle for justice in Colombia
      ABColombia, Oidhac, U.S. Office on Colombia 2011
      Colombia continues to suffer one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises in the world. In this context, those who defend human rights and the rule of law in Colombia have continuously been victims of systematic stigmatization, threats, sexual violence, unfounded criminal proceedings, violent attacks and killings carried out by all armed actors in the conflict. Amongst this group of defenders, women play a crucial role.

    • Protection manual for human rights defenders
      Enrique Eguren, Peace Brigades International, European Office 2005
      The gravity of the risks faced on a daily basis by human rights defenders are such that it is also important to pursue other means to strengthen their protection. In this regard I hope that this Protection Manual will support human rights defenders in developing their own security plans and protection mechanisms. Many human rights defenders are so engaged by their work to protect others that they give insufficient attention to their own security. Although this manual is written for all HRD, men and women alike, chapter 10 is specifically on women.

    • Self-care and self-defense manual for feminist activists
      Marina Bernal, Artemisa, Elige and CREA 2008
      This important manual is a valuable asset for all women engaged in the task of constructing and inhabiting a world in which all of us can fulfill our best potential. An indispensable tool, it invites us to stand our ground while attempting to undo the injustices meted out to us, and nurture the inherent resources that are so easily depleted: our bodies, affection, intelligence, creativity, spirituality…and ourselves.

    • UN mandate created to reduce reprisals against human rights defenders
      International Justice Resource Center
      On October 3, 2016, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in consultation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, announced a new mandate for the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, to lead UN work on ending intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders.

    News related to HHRI GBV- manual

    We have recently conducted a HHRI GBV training in Dohuk in cooperation with the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), The Norwegian People’s Aid and the local Government of the region in Northern Iraq (DOH). For this training NCA has generously covered the cost of translating the manual to Arabic. The final Arabic version will be available at the end of May.

    The second edition of the manual has arrived and can be downloaded from our manual web page. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual. Our sponsors have graciously covered the costs of printing as well as shipping of the manual. In return, we would highly appreciate if you could provide us with feedback on how you used the manual; in training; as part of supervision; or in any other way that facilitated your work/helped the beneficiaries. A few weeks after you have received the manual, we will send you a link to a google questionnaire covering these issues. We hope that you will be able to spend some minutes to give us some feedback on your experience of using the manual and how it was applied in practice.

    Facebook

    Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI Facebook page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

    Upcoming events


    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

    To improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter, as well as relevant publications, your lessons learned and best practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

    We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues, especially, in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    post@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

    To the top

     

     

     

    NEWSLETTER NO.5/2016 DECEMBER 15TH

    Dear friends and colleagues
    Tools when working with survivors of gender based violence

    We all have a tool-box we use when we work with survivors, that we have acquired through our work. You as a helper are the most important tool. It is important for those who work with survivors to know how traumatic reactions may inflict on the survivor. A helper who is knowledgeable about traumatic reactions will be more sensitive to the survivors need to feel humanized and respected, especially after a serious sexual gender based violation. This knowledge of traumatic reactions can also be useful for helpers working with people affected by other types of human rights violations.

    As an extraction of the main tools in our manual “Mental health and gender-based violence Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict – a training manual” we have made a toolbox. Our intention is to provide tools and approaches that can stabilise survivors after they have been exposed to traumatising events, help them to deal with events that trigger traumatic memories, and teach them possible ways to regain control of their lives. The purpose is to give you a small sized, easy to handle sample from the manual that can be easily translated into your own language. If you in relation to your work, want to translate the toolbox, please feel free to do that crediting hhri.org when appropriate. We would be delighted to post it on our GBV-manual website so that others also can make use of it.

    During these last months, we have conducted a webinar pilot directed towards helpers in and around Syria related to GBV and the crisis happening right now. The webinar is recorded and if you are interested you can follow the 6 recorded sessions and answer the questions and submit your reflections. The answers will be evaluated and you can obtain a certificate for taking the training.

    For your information, we are happy to announce that the manual will be available in Arabic in May 2017. We highly appreciate the work Norwegian Church Aid and Norwegian People´s Aid have put into this. Hopefully, there will also be a Russian version in 2017. We are working with the Ukrainian UNHCR regarding this. If you are interested in any of these versions, please contact us and we will put your name on our list.

    We are in a process of reviewing our training manual “Mental health and gender-based violence - Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict” for a second edition. Here is a link to an evaluation questionnaire regarding the use of our training manual. If you have received, or used the manual we would highly appreciate if you could answer the following questions. It will take you less than five minutes to helps us improve the manual to become a more practical tool for workers in the field of gender based violence. Thank you so much in advance.

    Further reading that highlight different aspects working with survivors

    • Women’s Access to Justice for Gender-Based Violence: A practitioner’s Guide
      Lisa Gormley, Ian Seiderman, Briony Potts and Alex Conte. International Commission of Justice, 2016.
      Under international human rights law, persons who suffer violations of their human rights have the right to effective remedies and reparation for the harm they have suffered. Gaining access to justice for acts of gender-based violence is important to secure relief at the individual level, but also to promote change at the systemic level in terms of laws and practice. This Practitioners Guide seeks to assist lawyers and other human rights advocates, but ultimately it is designed to benefit the women on whose behalf lawyers and advocates act and who are seeking justice.

    • Handbook for Coordinating Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings
      GBV AoR Global cluster protection 2010
      This coordination handbook represents a key tool for all sectors of the humanitarian community to work together in the prevention of and response to gender-based violence. Drawing from and building upon a growing body of international tools and resources, it provides the most comprehensive guidelines to date on how to establish coordination mechanisms to address gender based violence in emergencies.

    • Working with Gender Based Violence Survivors Reference Training Manual for Frontline Staff
      The first ever pan-Arab training guide on practical ways to engage men and boys in the fight to end violence against women throughout the region, titled ‘Women and Men…Hand in Hand Against Violence,’ was unveiled in Beirut at a high-level event. This training resource was developed for use in Arab countries in order to teach the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to promote gender equality and to prevent violence against women (VAW) through the effective engagement of men. It explores the concepts surrounding VAW, what factors are involved, and the consequences of VAW. In Arabic

    • The Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls
      is an online resource in English, French and Spanish, designed to serve the needs of policymakers, programme implementers and other practitioners dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls. The Centre is an initiative of UN Women, bringing together the valuable contributions of expert organizations and individuals, governments, United Nations sister agencies, and a wide range of relevant actors. Part of the overall effort is encouraging shared ownership of the site and ongoing partnership-building for its continuous development and sustainability.

    • Best practice guidelines for working with adults surviving child abuse
      Blue Knot Foundation has conducted a review of the literature pertinent to working with adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. Empirical studies and clinical guidelines have been considered.

    • Caring for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Emergencies
      IASC 2010
      This workshop is designed to introduce participants to a new resource related to addressing GBV in conflict and other emergency affected contexts. The Caring for Survivors Training Pack is designed to assist all professionals who come into direct contact with survivors to understand key concepts related to GBV and apply basic engagement skills that promote the safety and well-being of survivors.
    • Facebook

      Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

      Upcoming events


      We appreciate feedback and comments

      The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      With all of our heart we wish you a joyful 2017 with improved conditions for peace, justice and human rights for all.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

      To the top

       

      Invitation to participate in a webinar training


      “MENTAL HEALTH AND GENDER BASED VIOLENCE”
      Training Manual: Mental Health Management:
      Consequences of Sexual Violence in Conflict


      GBV training August – September 2016
      Introduction to training manual - 90 minutes a week for 6 weeks –
      with a focus on the crisis in Syria


      GBV certificate training - 6 online sessions






      NEWSLETTER NO.4/2016 JUNE 26TH

      Dear friends and colleagues
      Supporting victims of torture and their families – life after torture

      The 26th of June is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. One of the themes this year will be on Life after torture. This important topic is raised by the IRCT. A number of institutions and organizations all around the world will mark this day with activities and information with a view to strengthen the combat against torture and in particular, strengthen international attention on rehabilitation and recreating life after torture. In this newsletter we will present some links that touch upon ways of helping families living with torture survivors and ideas as to how they can manage and deal with daily life and all the challenges that a family may encounter. Torture, as is well known, affects the individual as well as the family in many ways.

      There is not much literature on how life in families develops in the after math of torture. There has been some research on family therapy with refugee families (Sveaass & Reichelt, 2001), and some studies based on families where member have disappeared, such as Paz Rojas’ book on “La interminable ausencia. Estudio médico, psicológico y político de la desaparición forzada de personas” (only in Spanish). Other studies and reports have dealt with consequences of severe human rights violations for family life.

      But there are far more publications that may be very relevant in this context, based on experiences of living in families where one member is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many who have survived torture develop different types of post-traumatic reactions, and many develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And as referred to above, severe reactions associated with traumatic events will of course affect the entire family.

      We have focused on links that give the survivor tools to handling everyday life, how to raise children, how to keep your relationship/marriage going, how to sleep at night, how to keep your job and aging with torture memories. We hope that it might help survivors gain more knowledge and to come to terms with their experiences, with their haunting memories and build new lives. For more information about torture and for PTSD go to our thematic pages.

      Further reading that highlight different aspects of life after torture

      • Sur, Dictadura y después. Elaboración psicosocial y clínica de los traumas colectivos
        Kordon, D. et al. (2010). Se trata entonces de la asistencia y tratamiento psicológico de víctimas de la represión, de situaciones extremas y de conflictos sociales, tratando de recomponer el equilibrio emocional, psicológico, para volver a encontrarse como persona, tener una mirada en el interior de la propia vida, de la sociedad, la identidad y la pertenencia. Es encontrar los caminos de la memoria, su diversidad y comprensión de lo vivido; no debe ser un retroceso al pasado que profundice el drama existencial y la negación de sí mismos. La memoria debe iluminar el presente para poder construir nuevos caminos de dignidad y recomponer el cuerpo social, profundamente dañado por gobiernos dictatoriales, tanto en la Argentina como en América Latina.

      • A new generation: How refugee trauma affects parenting and child development
        E. van Ee 2013, A thesis covering different aspects of life after torture, as relationship between parents and child and broken relationships.

      • Politically-motivated torture and its survivors - Social, familial, and societal sequelae
        J Quiroga, J. M. Jaranson Torture Journal 2005 2/3 IRCT page 27 and onwards. The social and economic consequences of torture have rarely been systematically studied. This is important for the less industrialized countries as well as for host countries providing asylum to large numbers of tortured refugees.

      • Cross cultural medicine – working with refugee survivors of torture
        B. Chester et N. Holtan 1992 Numerous factors must be taken into account to best provide for the health and well-being of refugee patients in developed countries. One issue that is rarely considered is the awful and not uncommon occurrence of political torture. Large numbers of refugees and other displaced persons are survivors of political torture. To facilitate the "re-making" of a survivor's world, the health care professional must recognize the multifaceted effects of torture and displacement on the individual, family, and community.

      • Disclosure and silencing: A systematic review of the literature on patterns of trauma communication in refugee families
        N.T. Dalgaard et E. Montgomery 2015 This systematic review aimed to explore the effects of different degrees of parental disclosure of traumatic material from the past on the psychological well-being of children in refugee families. A majority of studies emphasize the importance of the timing of disclosure and the manner in which it takes place, rather than the effects of open communication or silencing strategies per se.

      • Lifelong posttraumatic stress disorder: evidence from aging Holocaust survivors
        Y. Barak et H. Szor 2000. The literature provides ample evidence that posttraumatic stress disorder among survivors persists into old age. However, there is still a need to define the differences in frequency, clinical presentation, severity, and comorbid conditions among aging Holocaust survivors. Age at the time of trauma, cumulative lifetime stress, and physical illness are reported to have a positive association with more severe posttraumatic symptomatology.

      • Guidelines for psychiatric care of torture survivors
        David Kinzie, 2011 In describing the best psychiatric practices for the treatment of torture survivors, it is necessary to provide background on the various syndromes the survivors suffer and their corresponding neurobiology. There are also well known clinical aspects of these conditions and unique social and cultural considerations of survivors who usually come from very different cultures than the clinicians treating them.

      • Psychosocial trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and torture
        C. Madariaga 2002. Over the past few years, within the teams that provide medical-psychological care to people suffering from the psychic sequels of torture in our country, there has been a permanent discussion surrounding certain categories that arise from psychiatric nosography - as is the case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSDA) – that have been put forward as descriptive or interpretative models of the whole set of effects produced by this act of violence on psychic functions.

      • Torture and trauma
        About seven out of 10 refugees in Australia have been tortured or gone through some kind of war-related trauma. Some forms of torture (such as beatings, amputation, rape and burns) harm the body and cause lasting scars. Other torture methods are painful, but don’t cause scarring, such as starvation or being forced to stand for long periods of time. Examples of trauma include imprisonment, seeing the rape or murder of a loved one, or a dangerous journey to freedom such as an attack by pirates at sea. Some people who have been tortured develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks and nightmares about the event that are so clear they seem real.

      • From darkness to light
        Fasstt 2011 Australia’s program of Assistance for survivors of torture and trauma.

      • Helping a family member who has PTSD
        US. Department of veteran affairs When someone has PTSD, it can change family life. The person with PTSD may act differently and get angry easily. He or she may not want to do things you used to enjoy together

      • Risk, Resilience and Rights: Therapeutic Approaches to Working with Children, Families and Separated Young People who have Survived Torture
        Jocelyn Avigad and Tina Puryear, Freedom from Torture Governments and regimes who torture people have very clear intentions. They carry out physical and psychological acts of violence against targeted individuals and families in order to break a person and fragment families and communities. And they do this to invoke such extreme fear and shame that victims and their families will remain silent.

      Award to Diana Kordon from EATIP, Argentina

      A health professional that for many years has been doing an incredibly important work in relation to assistance to torture victims, family of the disappeared, train helpers, raise awareness and has constantly been struggling against impunity, is the Argentinian psychiatrist Diana Kordon. She has recently been given the Barbara Chester award. For four decades, Dr Kordon has provided psychological services to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and others affected by atrocities committed by the military dictatorship in her country.

      Facebook

      Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

      Upcoming events


      We appreciate feedback and comments

      The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

      To the top

       

      NEWSLETTER NO.3/2016 MAY

      Dear friends and colleagues

      We would like to share some of our latest activivties. Between 5-8 April 2016 a team of three specialists of ICAR foundation (Romania) came to Oslo, Norway. The visit, was part of the project "Exploring the Romanian-Norwegian cooperation in the psycho-social area in the context of the migration flow in Europe” funded by the EEA Grants 2009-2014, through the NGO Fund in Romania, Fund for Bilateral Relations.

      ICAR’s team visited several organisations/institutions and collected information about their activities, results, plans in the area of health and human rights.

      Several visits took place at the Department of Psychology (UiO) – University of Oslo, where the Romanian team learned about the UiO area of interest, institutional history, researchers’ community, students and financing mechanisms. The topic of “impunity, justice in transitional societies (e.g. Romania), health consequences of human rights abuses” was identified as a topic of high interest for both the Norwegian and Romanian participants. Both parties are committed to seek funds for a partnership research in this area.

      "Health and Human Rights Info” (HHRI), as a second Norwegian partner within the project, assisted ICAR team to meet other NGOs active in the human rights field. The future collaboration with HHRI is quite concrete and will consist in a series of training sessions that Norwegian experts will deliver to Romanian professionals in the area of sexual and gender based violence (Interesting opening for ICAR foundation to a new area of activity).

      Translation of relevant chapters of the manual “Mental health and gender-based violence - Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict” is also foreseen, especially knowing now that it contains tools that can be easely adapted for training in similar topics, for severely traumatised categories of people.

      Upcoming events

      We would also like to inform you of three different conferences where we will present our manual “Mental health and gender-based violence - Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict”:

    • 5th International Conference on the Survivors of Rape, ICSoR2016
      Deadline for abstract submissions 1st May
      September 29 – October 1 in Stockholm, Sweden

    • The 10th International Society for Health and Human Rights - ISHHR Conference
      “Mental health, mass people displacement and ethnic minorities”
      3rd- 6th October in Novi Sad in Serbia.

    • IRCT's 10th international scientific symposium: delivering on the promise of the right to rehabilitation
      Scientific Symposium New date:- 5-7 December 2016
      General Assembly 8-9 December
      Mexico City, Mexico

      Hope to see some of you in the near future.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

      To the top

       

       



      NEWSLETTER NO.2/2016 MARCH 21ST

      Dear friends and colleagues

      In this newsletter we take the opportunity to point to some very important decisions and initiatives to strengthen the international response to sexual exploitation, violence and abuse against women and inform about upcoming conferences.

      Resolution 2272 - to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers

      United Nations Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 mandates women and gender to be involved in all aspects of peace and security! According to the Peace women “1325 is a historic watershed political framework that recognizes that women – and a gender perspective – are relevant to negotiating peace agreements, planning refugee camps, and peacekeeping operations and reconstructing war-torn societies”. The Peace women have made a good overview over the different UN SC-resolutions in relation to 1325.

      The UN Security Council has so far adopted seven resolutions on “Women, Peace and Security”. These resolutions are: Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000); 1820 (2009); 1888 (2009) ; 1889 (2010); 1960 (2011) ; 2106 (2013); 2122 (2013); and 2242 (2015). These resolutions should be seen under one frame as they all are guiding documents for our work with women in war and conflict as well as in transitional societies and during peacetime.

      In addition to these resolutions, the security council has adopted SCR 2272 (2016); to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers. The resolution stresses that sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers undermines the implementation of peacekeeping mandates, as well as the credibility of United Nations peacekeeping, and reaffirming its support for the United Nations zero tolerance policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. It further requested that the Secretary-General replace all units of the troop- or police-contributing country from which the perpetrator is from if appropriate steps have not been taken by the country to investigate the allegation, and/or when the perpetrators have not been held accountable, and/or when there has been failure to inform the Secretary-General of the progress of its investigation or actions taken.

      That the fight against impunity, also for military personnel, in fact works is clearly highlighted by the victory in the Sepura Zarco case in Guatemala. The women of Sepur Zarco have testified against their captors in a breakthrough trial;. For the first time, anywhere in history, sexual slavery has been tried as a war crime in a national court in the country where the crime was committed. Survivors of wartime sexual violence in Guatemala have secured a landmark victory in the Sepur Zarco trial: a true victory for international human rights in a domestic court. And we believe this will open doors for similar cases.

      Further reading

      We find it timely to repeat the information about the HHRI Training Manual “Mental health and gender-based violence Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict – a training manual” -as well as the IASC Guidelines for Gender- based Violence interventions in humanitarian settings Guidelines with focus on practical aspects and approach to GBV.

      Publications that highlight different aspects of combatting military sexual abuse

      The 10th International Society for Health and Human Rights - ISHHR Conference 3rd- 6th October 2017 in Serbia

      The title of the 2017 ISHHR Conference is “Mental health, mass people displacement and ethnic minorities” and it will focus on the displacement of communities as a result of conflict, the phenomenon of mass-traumatisation and the response of the European neighbourhood (particularly Central Europe) to the mass influx from the Middle East and North Africa (particularly as a result of the Syrian crisis). However, we will also welcome contributions from experts and speakers in Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, as mass people displacement and migration is a global challenge.
      Please note that deadline for abstracts are 15th April

      Facebook

      Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

      Upcoming events


      We appreciate feedback and comments

      The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

      To the top

       


      NEWSLETTER NO.1/2016 FEBRUARY 26TH

      Dear friends and colleagues

      Family reunification - challenges for refugees and asylum seekers

      Flight and exile divide millions of refugee families worldwide. The reality for many refugees is that they have lost track of their families or have had to leave them behind for economic or safety reasons.

      The family however plays an essential role to help persons rebuild their lives and can provide critical support to adapt to new and challenging circumstances. Restoring families can also ease the sense of loss that accompanies many refugees who, in addition to family, have lost their country, network and life as they knew it.

      Even so, family reunification may take time and that the rules for family reunification are strict. Some never get granted their application, while others have to wait for several years. This is straining both on those who came first and they are waiting to come by. Being separated is a serious trauma for many people, but strangely enough it is often not spoken about, and family reunification is often not put in the forefront, neither by therapists or policy makers.

      This quote points clearly to a major point related to this;

      ”Armed conflict and war trauma are seen as the violence of others,
      whereas an examination of prolonged separations highlights Western administrative violence”
      (Rousseau et al, 2001)

      When families get back together there are of course great expectations involved. Fear, uncertainty and waiting have preceded the reunification. But the situation may also involve difficult or ambivalent feelings. Many years apart do something with both parties. Little contact during the waiting may have created distance or feelings of distrust. This is important to talk about, to explore and to deal with, as a way of creating the best possible reunification and hopefully reduce some of the stresses involved. And it is important to convey that other families are experiencing some of the same feelings in the beginning. Raising awareness about the situation in itself can thus be of great help and assistance in this process from the host society, and may be an important preventive initiative.

      It might also be helpful to know more of the rights related to family reunification and what to expect. We have collected some useful publications related to family reunification.

      Further reading

      Articles, publications and websites that highlight different aspects of Family Reunification

      • Family reunion for refugees in the UK Understanding support needs
        The study highlighted evidence of need for family reunion support. Almost 5000 visas for dependents of individuals with refugee status or humanitarian protection were issued in the UK in 2010. The British Red Cross, the main provider of family reunion travel assistance in the UK, supported just over 100 family members through this programme (White and Hendry, British Red Cross 2011).

      • UNHCR guidelines on reunification of refugee families
        The note restates the position of the Office concerning the types of family reunification promoted by UNHCR, the categories of persons eligible for assistance, and the action to be taken by UNHCR Headquarters, by the Field Offices, and by refugees themselves to achieve the reunification of refugee families under various circumstances (UNHCR 1983).

      • Disrupted flight the realities of separated refugee families in the EU
        Available research shows that family separation tends to be associated with poor mental and physical health, which then has an impact on peoples’ ability to learn a language, look for a job, re-train, or simply interact with others (including with officials and administrations).3 Long separation can also damage the family structure and cause conflict when the family is reunited. By way of contrast, various studies document the positive effect of family reunification, particularly on people’s general well-being, but also on their employment prospects and on the educational achievement of their children (Red Cross 2014).

      • Background note for the agenda item: family reunification in the context of resettlement and integration protecting the family: challenges in implementing policy in the resettlement context
        The five guiding principles that sustain UNHCR efforts to protect family unity, and to promote and facilitate family reunification in the resettlement process (UNHCR 2001).

      • Engaging refugee families in therapy: exploring the benefits of including referring professionals in first family interviews
        The possible benefits of including referring professionals in the first family interviews are being explored as a way to engage refugee families in therapy. Families in exile confront a number of problems related both to premigration traumatic exposures and to present adaptation processes. Refugee clients and the referring professionals in the larger system frequently see the problems and their solutions quite differently. This situation may often result in unclear working alliances in a context of therapy (Sveaass and Reichelt 2001 ).

      • The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)
        The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) is a pan-European alliance of 90 NGOs protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons.

      • Refugee Family Reunification UNHCR’s Response to the European Commission Green Paper on the Right to Family Reunification of Third Country Nationals Living in the European Union (Directive 2003/86/EC)
        UNHCR has been entrusted by the United Nations General Assembly with the mandate to provide international protection to refugees and, together with Governments, to seek solutions to refugee problems. Article 35 of the 1951 Refugee Convention5 and Article II of the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees6 oblige States Parties to cooperate with UNHCR in the exercise of its mandate, in particular facilitating UNHCR’s duty of supervising the application of the provisions of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.

      • Family therapy sessions with refugee families; a qualitative study
        Due to the armed conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s many families escaped to other countries. The main goal of this study was to explore in more detail the complexity of various family members’ experiences and perceptions from their life before the war, during the war and the escape, and during their new life in Sweden. There is insufficient knowledge of refugee families’ perceptions, experiences and needs, and especially of the complexity of family perspectives and family systems. This study focused on three families from Bosnia and Herzegovina who came to Sweden and were granted permanent residence permits. The families had at least one child between 5 and 12 years old (Jarkman Björn, Gustafsson, Sydsjö and Berterö 2013)

      • Refugee children and families psychological health, brief family intervention and ethical aspects
        To investigate parent-child agreement on the psychological symptoms of the refugee children; to explore refugee children’s well-being before and after three sessions of family therapy; to explore, in more detail, the complexity of various family members’ experiences and perceptions of their life before the war, during the war and their escape, and in their new life in Sweden; and also to highlight ethical issues and conduct ethical analyses using basic ethical principles that take into account the varying perspectives of the actors involved with regard to the psychological treatment of refugee children and families (Jarkman Björn, 2013).

      • The European Resettlement Network
        The European Resettlement Network is an inclusive network that supports the development of resettlement in Europe by connecting a variety of actors involved in refugee resettlement. Network members have a shared commitment to refugee resettlement and refugee protection, to ensuring the provision of durable solutions for refugees, and to ensuring refugees resettled to Europe receive integration support that provides them with the tools to become fully participating citizens.

      • Family reunification in exile – Preventive measures through family conversations (Only in Norwegian)
        Many refugee families have experience that they have been separated in connection with war, disaster or escape. Family members have separately or together been subjected to stressors and traumatic events. Reunification with the family after years of separation may involve major challenges. This publication is developed a method that could be of assistance to workers meeting these families (Gravråkmo et al 2016).

      Facebook

      Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

      Upcoming events


      We appreciate feedback and comments

      The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

      To the top

       

       

       

      <

       

       

       



      HHRI are not responsible for the content of external websites. Links are made because we think the
      content might be of use. The comments and evaluation on this page are made by our staff to make
      the links more accessible to you, and is entirely our subjective impression of the link in relation to our context.

       

    Kirkegata 5, 0153 Oslo, Norway