2019

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2018

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Dear friends and colleagues
2018 the year of Human Rights Defenders. 

When human rights defenders (HRD) are killed or forcibly disappeared with impunity, the signal given by the authorities is contempt for the human rights of everyone. Amnesty International Report: Deadly but preventable attacks

Amnesty International, has  together with other non-governmental and community-based organizations estimated that around 3,500 human rights defenders have been killed worldwide since the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defender´s in 1998. While governments tend to underreport such happenings the number is likely much higher.

This year we celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as the 70-year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since the beginning, the Universal declaration of Human Rights has been challenged, criticized and under attack. Nevertheless, the Declaration was the important beginning of the development and adoption of legally binding conventions, obliging ratifying states and to incorporate these into national law. The development we have been witness to, during these 70 years, is of vital significance to human rights and human dignity.

To stand up for these rights is of absolute priority. The term human rights defenders, referring to those who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights, play a central role in the ongoing process of defending and respecting human rights. 20 years after the Declaration on the situation of these defenders, much of their work is done under serious hardships, even at the risk of the life and integrity of the defenders. This includes smear campaigns, allegations of criminal acts such as money laundering, death threats, public humiliations and arbitrary detention and even killings.  The work of the defenders represents a deep necessity in a world where rights are being contested. This may also affect the mental health and wellbeing of the defenders, something which may be frequently neglected. We must never forget that many of the human rights defenders today are themselves survivors of serious human rights violations.

To honour the work of Human Rights Defenders everywhere we have made athematic page related to Human rights defenders where we present the main declarations, resolutions, documents and other publications that are relevant for HRD. We have also included some links that may be relevant from a point of view of mental health and well-being of the defenders. This thematic page on HRD is simultaneously a sneak peak for our new website. We would be very pleased if you could have a look at it and let us know what you think about it. Your comments and ideas are welcome.

In addition to our thematic page we would like to mention the HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS MEMORIAL This page commemorates those who were killed defending our rights.

In addition, we recommend the page “I defend rights”. Here you, as a defender, can share your story in 3 simple steps.

  • Sit at a computer with a working mic
  • Reply to three easy questions (audio only),
  • No preparation is necessary Hit SUBMIT (add photographs, if you want)

Click here

Listen to our board director Nora Sveaass sharing her story

Click here

Download the HHRI GBV manual

Download the manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict for free. The manual is also available inArabic, Russian and Spanish. This training material has been written for those who provide assistance and support to women who survive gender-based violence and sexual trauma during disasters, wars and conflicts.  Furthermore, we hope it may be helpful as well to those who work with gender-based violence survivors in other settings. Please share the manual and spread it among your colleagues, organizations or in your community.

 

Upcoming Events

6th International Conference on the Survivors of Rape (ICSoR) 
Helsinki, Finland. Preconference December 10th.
Main conference on December 11th and 12th, 2018.

Intergovernmental Conference – Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration 
10-11 December,2018
Marrakech Morocco

2ndAustralia and New Zealand Refugee Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference 
27-29 March 2019 Brisbane Queensland Australia.

21st Nordic Conference for therapists working with traumatized refugees
From powerlessness to strength
Call for abstract 15. January 2019
6th – 7th June 2019
Stavanger, Norway

The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes. Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims.

11th ISHHR Conference, Colombia, in October 2020. The Conference and Capacity-Building Workshops will focus on themes relevant to both local and international participants such as:

  • Sexual violence in war and its consequences
  • Treatment and care of survivors of traumatic human rights abuse
  • Supporting Human Rights Defenders
  • Post-conflict reconciliation
  • The challenges faced by internally displaced peoples (IDPs)
  • Social activism in the fight against poverty (rural and urban)
  • Traditional healing and the role of rituals
  • ‘Los desaparecidos’: missing persons, families and psychosocial support
  • Ethnic perspectives on social activism, empowerment and reconciliation
  • Helping the helper
  • The role of women in the construction of peace

We appreciate feedback and comments The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is a newsletter with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war and 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.We would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on other 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,

Sincerely yours

Health and Human Rights Info
Elisabeth Ng Langdal
Executive Director
postmaster@hhri.org
www.hhri.org
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View the original newsletter here.

Dear friends and colleagues,

We have gathered some links for those who work with survivors of the Indonesian Earthquake.

“This natural disaster will create untold mental health consequences – not just for the survivors who live and work in the communities and villages that were in the centre of earthquake. This is truly a global natural and human disaster. Yet, the major and continuing task to address the disaster’s aftermath will fall on volunteers and professionals living and working in extremely difficult conditions in Nepal. Their jobs will remain the most difficult and most wrenching, long after the television news teams are gone, and the world’s attention moves to new events and occurrences. Mental health professionals and volunteers, of all the relief workers, have some of the hardest and longest lasting work ahead of them”.

General information on the situation in Indonesia

Guidelines for relief workers

  • HHRI thematic page on disaster 
    A webpage with useful links to guidelines on disaster. By definition is a disaster a tragedy of a natural or human-made hazard that negatively affects society or environment. Often developing countries suffer much greater costs when a disaster hits because these countries are much more vulnerable, and have less appropriate disaster management measures. Earthquakes, floods, volcano eruptions and man-made disasters, can cause – in addition to all damages on the infrastructure – significant psychological and social suffering to the population that has been affected. The psychological and social impacts of disasters may be acute in the short term, but they can also undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected population.
  • Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings 
    IASC 2008
    These guidelines reflect the insights of practitioners from different geographic regions, disciplines and sectors, and reflect an emerging consensus on good practice among practitioners. The core idea behind them is that, in the early phase of an emergency, social supports are essential to protect and support mental health and psychosocial well-being (191 pages pdf).
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network gives you information on how to help children in a situation of earthquake 
    These pages covers the impact on Children and Families during emergencies.
  • Guidelines for integrating gender-based violence interventions in humanitarian action
    IASC 2015 We also know that in times of crises and disaster there is an increased level of violence, in particular in gender based violence (GBV) . GBV is a serious problem in the context of complex emergencies and natural disasters where normal structures of society are seriously affected and alternative safeguards not yet in place. Women and children are often targets of abuse, and are the most vulnerable to exploitation, violence, and abuse simply because of their gender, age, and status in society. Women and girls that are displaced from their home will often experience multiple traumatic experiences.
  • Managing distress about earthquakes from afar – Guidelines for Good Practice 
    For mental health workers empathy is an essential aspect of good help. This is also a source for compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatisation or secondary traumatic stress (STS). Early recognition and awareness is crucial to be resilient to these symptoms. Awareness of this is important for workers in areas of conflict and disaster, and in extreme environments such as these, people may be more vulnerable to secondary traumatization. We also know that professionals under this kind of stress may be at risk to perform less efficiently and not perform as they would normally do. (Antares Foundation, for more languages)
  • Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings 
    WHO (2007) These guidelines reflect the insights of practitioners from different geographic regions, disciplines and sectors, and reflect an emerging consensus on good practice among practitioners. The core idea behind them is that, in the early phase of an emergency, social supports are essential to protect and support mental health and psychosocial well-being.
  • Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for Recovering From Natural Disasters
    APA Help Center (2005)
    When a natural disaster affects a community, the resulting trauma can reverberate even with those not directly affected by the disaster.
    Disasters of this type can be sudden and overwhelming. In addition to the often catastrophic toll on lives and property, a disaster like a tsunami(tidal wave), hurricane or fire can have an impact on those who have lost loved ones and even those who feel more vulnerable as a result of learning about the disaster.
  • Inter-Agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and separated children
    Children separated from their parents and families because of conflict, population displacement or natural disasters are among the most vulnerable. Separated from those closest to them, these children have lost the care and protection of their families in the turmoil, just when they most need them. They face abuse and exploitation, and even their very survival may be threatened. They may assume adult responsibilities, such as protecting and caring for younger sisters and brothers. Children and adolescents who have lost all that is familiar – home, family, friends, stability – are potent symbols of the dramatic impact of humanitarian crises on individual lives.

Download the HHRI GBV manual

Download the manual Mental health and gender-based violence: Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict for free. This training material has been written for the many individuals who provide assistance and support to women who survive gender-based violence and sexual trauma during disasters, wars and conflicts. We hope it may be helpful as well to those who work with gender-based violence in other settings. Please share the manual and spread it among your colleagues, organizations or your community.

Upcoming events

We appreciate feedback and comments

The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is a newsletter with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war and 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.

We would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on other 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,

Sincerely yours

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

View the original newsletter here.

View the original newsletter here.

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

2017

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

Dear friends and colleagues,

“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

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.


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

Dear friends and colleagues

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

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

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 itsdatabase , 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.


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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

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

2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

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 workNorwegian 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

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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

Dear friends and colleagues,

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

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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

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”:

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

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 Zarcocase 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

Dear friends and colleagues,

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).

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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

2015

Introduction of our new project coordinator for the Spanish speaking readers and improvement of our Gender based violence website

We are proud to announce Diana Carolina Montoya as our Project coordinator for our work in the Latin American and Spanish speaking region. Carolina is a psychologist from Colombia, with a Master in Latin American studies from the University of Stockholm. Her thesis focuses on the social and economic reintegration of ex-combatants that were involved in the armed conflict in Colombia. She has also attended a course in Sustainable Development at the ETH Zürich and MIT, in Slovakia in 2007. She also participated in a course in Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration at the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Stockholm, Sweden in 2011. 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. Carolina is happy to receive any feedback, comments and ideas regarding her engagement with these issues.

We will also in this letter introduce you to our Gender based violence manual – website. This website is concentrated on our manualMental health and gender-based violence Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict – a training manual”. “On this web site, you can download the manual and have a closer look at the pilots –trainings that we organized prior to the completion of the manual. We have edited the Butterfly- woman story into one continuous story, as well presented the other tools, such as the grounding exercises, the helping the helpers part and ideas as to how you can conduct training in your context. This website is also translated to Spanish. Even though the manual itself, is not translated yet, many of the elements are now in Spanish. You will be able to read the Butterfly woman story, do grounding exercises and hopefully to set up your own training based on this. If you are interested in organizing training at your workplace, in your organization or other relevant contexts, please send us an e-mail and we will provide you with more information and advice, should you want this.


Further reading

Articles, publications and websites that highlight different aspects of Gender based violence

  • HHRI thematic page on Gender based violence
    An extensive selection of links related to Gender Based Violence are gathered at this thematic page. Gender-based violence has become an umbrella term for any harm that is perpetrated against a person’s (woman or man), will, and that results from power inequalities that are based on gender roles.
  • Gender based violence manual web site
    We have gathered a few tips and instructions on how to prepare when you are conducting a training based on the training manual – “Mental health and gender-based violence Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict”. A web site to ease your way into the training manual.
  • IASC Guidelines for Gender- based Violence interventions in humanitarian settings
    New release
    Guidelines with focus on practical aspects and approach ( f.e. shelter, security, food). Nothing in specific about mental health. – “Prevention of and response to sexual violence in emergencies” The GBV Guidelines have been revised from the 2005 version by an inter-agency Task Team led by UNICEF and UNFPA, and endorsed by the IASC in 2015 (pdf, 334 p.)
  • Engaging men
    Gender equality cannot be achieved without the involvement of men and boys. But change is slowly taking place, and men are increasingly working alongside women to support gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. We have gathered more links on the subject under the headline on our thematic page on GBV.

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.

We wish you a peaceful 2016 with improved conditions for 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

Secondary traumatisation – being a good helper

Talking to survivors of trauma also affects the helper. For all helpers empathy is an essential aspect of being a good helper. This is also a source for compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatisation or secondary traumatic stress (STS). How are helpers to manage their own stress? Early recognition and awareness is crucial to be resilient to these symptoms and prevent burnt out.

Awareness of this is important for workers in areas of conflict and disaster, and in extreme environments such as these, people may be more vulnerable to secondary traumatisation. We also know that professionals under this kind of stress may be at risk to perform less efficiently and not perform as they would normally do. Even large organizations that have the resources and knowledge about this particular kind of stress may have reduced capacity to deal with or take care of the affected personnel.

This might be because managers are not adequately trained to spot symptoms, are unprepared for early intervention and prevention, are not equipped to assist, or have poor follow-up procedures. These problems are much more acute for local helpers, who usually have few resources and very little support. All helpers who work closely with traumatised people should take the time to make themselves aware of their own emotional state, and what they need to do to protect themselves from exhaustion while continuing to work with compassion.

Being exposed vicariously to traumatic events, for example by listening to catastrophic testimonies, may generate some of the same trauma reactions that would occur if you were involved in a serious incident. You may struggle to manage your emotions, have problems in your relationships, find decision-making difficult, have physical problems (aches and pains, illnesses), feel hopeless, think your life has no meaning, or experience a collapse in self-esteem.

It is important to develop strategies to cope with situations that might cause vicarious trauma-reactions. What helps you to take your mind off your work or your thoughts? How can you rest your body as well as your mind? Does an activity inspire you or put you in a better mood?

For many local helpers, there may often not be any support or resources at all to deal with this. If possible, meet regularly with other helpers to discuss your experiences and feelings, or do things together. If there are too few helpers in your area to create a support group, find friends and other people you trust with whom you can share your feelings without breaking the confidentiality of the survivors you are helping. On HHRI´s thematic page for HHRI thematic page on helping thelpers we have gathered links that can be useful for all persons engaged in this kind of important but heavy work.


Further reading

Articles, publications and websites that highlight different aspects of helping the helper

  • HHRI thematic page on helping the helpers
    The helpers working in areas of conflict and disaster, and in extreme environments such as these are often trying to solve problems sometimes too overwhelming. They are also just human beings, and although they have not gone through those events themselves, they have to cope with horrible stories and impressions. This will of course leave marks and sometimes they develop severe psychological problems. On this thematic page we have collected a selection of articles high lightening some of these topics.
  • Compassion Fatigue, Secondary PTSD, Vicarious PTSD, Differences – You tube video
    In this webcast Frank Ochberg explains the differences between Compassion Fatigue, Secondary PTSD, burn out, and Caregiver Burden.
  • Manual on human rights monitoring – trauma and self care
    Vicarious trauma refers to the negative reactions that can occur when hearing about someone else’s traumatic experiences. Human rights defenders and officers are at risk of vicarious trauma when they interview victims of human rights violations and hear stories of their suffering.
  • Secondary Traumatic Stress
    Each year more than 10 million children in the United States endure the trauma of abuse, violence, natural disasters, and other adverse events. These experiences can give rise to significant emotional and behavioural problems that can profoundly disrupt the children’s lives and bring them in contact with child-serving systems. For therapists, child welfare workers, case managers, and other helping professionals involved in the care of traumatized children and their families, the essential act of listening to trauma stories may take an emotional toll that compromises professional functioning and diminishes quality of life.
  • Self-Care Assessment Worksheet
    This assessment tool provides an overview of effective strategies to maintain self-care. After completing the full assessment, choose one item from each area that you will actively work to improve.

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 4.300 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

Dear friends and colleagues

By Nora Sveaass – A clinical psychologist, member of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Chair of the HHRI Board

The “Hoffman report” published on July 10th this year was a shocking but a very important document. The report was a result of a thorough investigation looking into the many allegations that had been raised with respect to psychologists’ participation in so-called enhanced interrogation in the context of national security in the USA. For many years, terror suspects have been kept deprived of liberty in so-called black sites or in other places of detention where the detainees were deprived of the basic human rights and legal safeguards. Moreover, the concern has been to what extent psychologists have taken part in interrogation and developed ways of interrogating, applying psychological knowledge in an unlawful and unethical way, and why information about psychologists’ involvement was not actively looked into, stopped and sanctioned.

The American Psychological Association (APA) initiated the report, but the work was done in an independent way and published based on an analysis of very large material that had been revised. The report concludes very clearly that there has been a close collaboration between the US Department of Defence (DoD), CIA and the American Psychological Association during the Bush administration. APA has actively taken part in interrogations, including by finding ways of pressuring suspects for the sake of information and national security.

The report refers to a “tailoring” of the APA principles of ethics to conform with the needs of the US DoD. It also refers to a number of ways in which the APA covered these decisions as well as the many attempts at “sugar coating” this with resolutions and documents to still the strong critics and to avoid insight into the actual engagement and abuse.

Health workers’ participation in torture and other forms of serious abuses is unfortunately not something new. Psychologists and doctors tacitly accepted the sterilization laws that were adopted in Germany in 1933, resulting in 350-400 000 persons being sterilized. In addition, there were few protests against the Nürenberg laws of 1935 strictly regulating marriage, so that «German blood» would not be mixed with the blood of other «races». But the most serious was of course the Euthanasia programme implemented between 1940 – 1941 where around 70 000 adult psychiatric patients and ca. 5 000 intellectually disabled children were killed. The really scaring point is that this was put through practically without protests. But, at the Nürenberg trials in 1947, 15 out of 23 doctors who were charged were found guilty and seven were sentenced to death.

Abuse of psychiatry as a tool for persecution of persons in opposition has had a long story in the former Soviet Union, and many dissidents were silenced after wrongly having been diagnosed as mentally ill. In 1971 Vladimir Bukovsky provided a comprehensive report about this abuse to a number of psychiatrists in Europa and USA and disclosed the arguments used when forcedly hospitalizing political dissidents. In 1972 it became known that a Russian psychiatrist, dr Gluzman had been imprisoned for 10 years because he had actively documented the abuse of psychiatry. This situation was discussed at the meeting in World Psychiatric Association (WPA) in Honolulu in 1977, where this was actively condemned and an international committee was established in order to investigate this situation.

Under the military dictatorships in Latin America between 1970 and 1990 it was a well-known fact that health workers participated on the side of the oppressors and that doctors assisted in falsifying death and birth certificates so that death by torture could be masked and children born in captivity could be illegally adopted to families close to the dictators. In addition, there are allegations also that health workers participated in designing and carrying out torture. But on the other hand, nobody was so active and strong in the documenting, protesting and bringing into light what was going on. Their active condemnation of abuse as well as strong voices against impunity and for accountability for those responsible, was heard globally and their strong position on this may well have contributed to international justice for crimes against humanity. Today there are trials ongoing in Argentina, Peru and Colombia. In particular in Argentina, the responsible are sentenced to life prisons. Those affected by the violence have likewise been able to tell and to hear, and many have received reparation, despite the difficulties also surrounding this measure.

During the last years, there has been a growing engagement among health professionals concerning human rights and the principles of ethics. A number of attempts have been made to establish the principles of human rights as a basis for professional ethics. This must be seen as important steps to counteract that professionals, whose main objective is to work for health, well-being, and respect for physical and mental integrity of persons, engage in violations, destruction and abuse. The European Federation of Psychological Associationsvoted in July in favour of including human rights principles in the so-called meta-code of ethics, for the professional organizations ethical codes.

So, back to the Hoffman report. Many raised the question whether the report would be published in full and unedited or what would happen to it. We know that that it was published immediately at completion, and all the important and very concerning details are in the report. The allegations as to psychologists engagement had been many, over a long time, and well founded. But all attempts at doing something with this problem were met with negative comments, even scorn.

There is no doubt today that the US administration under Bush in fact violated human rights and now, it is also documented that the APA formed part of this. Torture became part of interrogation of terror-suspects after 9/11 and many were kept in places where no rights were respected. The report by the US Senate from 2014, documented this, and now the recent report has described psychologists’ role in these violations. The greenlighting by Donald Rumsfeld to «water-boarding», create fear by playing on phobias, and stressed-positions, as well as the redefining of torture in the so-called «torture memos» signalled a policy in clear violation of the international absolute prohibition of torture, and the non-derogable right not to be tortured. Furthermore, the argument that a «lex specialis» would justify impermissible acts during interrogation was clearly described as unacceptable by the UN Committee against Torture, in 2006.

Health professionals must be very aware of the rights of persons, must be informed about human rights, what these entail and what they actually mean on the ground. This must include a clear ethical position where no order from any superior justifies torture or ill-treatment. Also where reporting on violations observed or intended is part of the ethics, and were whistle-blowing is something that must happen when colleagues or others are in violations with the human rights. The unacceptable participation and contribution of the APA in interrogation must teach us a very important lesson. Our US colleagues, who for long have spoken about this publically, but to a lot of deaf ears, may be our best advisors as to what should be done to prevent this from happening again.

All professionals have a responsibility to engage in order both to avoid harm from being done, and to strengthen respect and fulfilment of the internationally agreed upon and adopted human rights. Both those relating to social, economic and cultural rights and those relating to civil and political rights . It is also important with national and international collaboration between health professionals to ensure that rights are respected and enjoyed. This must be given stronger priority by the organizations, associations and networks to which we are affiliated. The civil society voice that health professionals is part of, plays an important role in the global struggle against violence and injustice, and in promoting human rights and dignity.


Further reading

Articles, publications and websites that highlight different aspects of health workers, ethics and torture

  • HHRI thematic page on Ethics
    In all health care work, and particularly in work with persons exposed to injustice and human rights violations, a clear awareness of ethical codes, standards and principles is quite necessary. The knowledge and clarity about ethical and human rights principles will strengthen the involvement of health professionals in human rights violations, and fortify their actions to prevent such violations. It is in order to strengthen knowledge about these principles, that we include a thematic page on ethics.
  • HHRI thematic page on Torture
    Torture in any form and for any reason has been banned by international law, but it is still practiced on a million people each year around the world. Survivors of torture are found everywhere. Victims of torture and their families need rehabilitation to make it possible for them to re-establish control over their lives.
  • The final Hofman report
    The APA Board of Directors engaged attorney David Hoffman of the law firm Sidley Austin in November 2014 to conduct an independent review of whether there was any factual support for the assertion that APA engaged in activity that would constitute collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror.
  • The Hoffman Report: Background & Introduction
    In November 2014, the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association engaged our Firm to conduct an independent review of allegations that had been made regarding APA’s issuance of ethical guidelines in 2002 and 2005, and related actions. These ethical guidelines determined whether and under what circumstances psychologists who were APA members could ethically participate in national security interrogations…… By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

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 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 4.300 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

“If you are blind what are your options in an Earthquake?”

What happens to persons with disabilities in emergencies, war and conflict situations? The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – article 11

“Persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected in disaster, emergency, and conflict situations due to inaccessible evacuation, response (including shelters, camps, and food distribution), and recovery efforts”.
– United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2013

Around 15% of the world’s population has a disability. According to the UNHCR, the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people who were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013 was 51.2 million. This means that at least 4.5 million of the refugees have a disability. The numbers are probably higher since wars and disasters are continuously increasing the amount of persons with disabilities. This is why it is important to highlight the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, and especially article 11, regarding situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies that claims: “States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters”.

Among the most vulnerable are children with disabilities , whose right to assistance – ranging from health to education – is often overlooked in humanitarian response. As a result, they are left more vulnerable to a life of poverty and abuse, and denied their rightful place in helping strengthen and rebuild their communities and countries. Women and girls with disabilities are at large at higher risk to being exposed to gender based violence. How can we address violence against women and girls with disabilities, and emphasis the need for a holistic approach aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls with disabilities? Is it possible to promote their autonomy and addressing specific risk factors that expose them to violence? In war and conflict situations, who will be the ones to make sure that the rights of people with disabilities are fulfilled? Who is responsible when the State fails to fulfill its duties? What happens with human rights in conflict situations, and how do such situations affect the most vulnerable groups in society? The Conclusion on refugees with disabilities and other persons with disabilities protected and assisted by United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) migh give us some answers. The Conclution Recognice that host States, which are often developing countries, have limited resources and face various challenges in providing such services and facilities; reaffirming, therefore, the international community and UNHCR’s role to assist States in fulfilling these responsibilities, in the spirit of international cooperation and burden sharing.


Further reading

Articles, publications and websites that highlight different aspects of human rights and disabilities

  • Definition of disabilities
    Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
  • International norms and standards relating to disability part v. persons with disabilities and multiple discrimination – rights of special groups
    Disabled persons who have to leave their countries find themselves in particularly disadvantaged situations. Disabled refugees are an extremely vulnerable group and are, therefore, in need of special attention. However, there are no legal instruments at an international level, as such, to protect the rights disabled refugees. Disabled refugees can only refer to scattered provisions of conventions, instruments and international humanitarian law.
  • Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs
    For the millions of Americans who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, emergencies such as fires, floods and acts of terrorism present a real challenge. The same challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs populations. Protecting yourself and your family when disaster strikes requires planning ahead. This booklet will help you get started.
  • Disability Inclusion: Policy to Practice –
    This report presents the approaches, positive practices and ongoing challenges to operationalizing disability in¬clusion across UNHCR and its partner organizations, and provides lessons and recommendations for the wider humanitarian community.
  • The United Nations office of the High Commissioner of Human Right´s website on the Human rights of persons with disabilities
  • Monitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Guidance for human rights monitors
    The adoption and the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol challenge such attitudes and mark a profound shift in existing approaches towards disability. In the Convention, the focus is no longer on a perceived “wrongness” of the person, with the impairment seen as a matter of deficiency or disease. On the contrary, the Convention views disability as a “pathology of society”, that is, as the result of the failure of societies to be inclusive and to accommodate individual differences. Societies need to change, not the individual, and the Convention provides a road map for such change.)
  • Thematic study on the issue of violence against women and girls and disability
    It analyses national legislation, policies and programs for the protection and prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities. It highlights the remaining challenges in addressing the root causes of violence against women and girls with disabilities and incorporating women and girls with disabilities into gender-based violence programs. The study concludes with recommendations on legislative, administrative, policy and programmatic measures to address violence against women and girls with disabilities, with emphasis on the need for a holistic approach aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls with disabilities, promoting their autonomy and addressing specific risk factors that expose them to violence.
  • Disabilities Among Refugees and Conflict-affected Populations
    Based on field research in five refugee situations, as well as global desk research, the report maps existing services for displaced persons with disabilities, identifies gaps and good practices and makes recommendations on how to improve services, protection and participation for displaced persons with disabilities. It also includes a Resource Kit geared toward UN and nongovernmental organization (NGO) field staff working with displaced persons with disabilities.
  • Women with Disabilities: The Forgotten Peace Builders
    Women across the world are standing their ground against political exclusion, but more must be done to ensure that a gender-sensitive approach is used, that all women have the opportunity to participate in building the rule of law and strengthening democracy, and that all women have a voice in decision-making processes post-conflict.

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We appreciate feedback and comments

The Health and Human Rights 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 4.300 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.

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

We have gathered some links for relief workers working with survivors of the earthquake in Nepal

“This natural disaster will create untold mental health consequences – not just for the survivors who live and work in the communities and villages that were in the center of earthquake. This is truly a global natural and human disaster. Yet, the major and continuing task to address the disaster’s aftermath will fall on volunteers and professionals living and working in extremely difficult conditions in Nepal. Their jobs will remain the most difficult and most wrenching, long after the television news teams are gone and the world’s attention moves to new events and occurrences. Mental health professionals and volunteers, of all the relief workers, have some of the hardest and longest lasting work ahead of them”.


General information on the situation in Nepal


Guidelines for relief workers

  • HHRI thematic page on disaster
    A webpage with useful links to guidelines on disaster. By definition is a disaster a tragedy of a natural or human-made hazard that negatively affects society or environment. Often developing countries suffer much greater costs when a disaster hits because these countries are much more vulnerable, and have less appropriate disaster management measures. Earthquakes, floods, volcano eruptions and man-made disasters, can cause – in addition to all damages on the infrastructure – significant psychological and social suffering to the population that has been affected. The psychological and social impacts of disasters may be acute in the short term, but they can also undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected population.
  • Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings
    IASC 2008
    These guidelines reflect the insights of practitioners from different geographic regions, disciplines and sectors, and reflect an emerging consensus on good practice among practitioners. The core idea behind them is that, in the early phase of an emergency, social supports are essential to protect and support mental health and psychosocial well-being (191 pages pdf).
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network gives you information on how to help children in a situation of earthquake
    These pages covers the impact on Children and Families with headlines as Description, Readiness, Response, Recovery regarding earthquakes.
  • Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide
    National Child Traumatic Stress Network and National Center for PTSD
    An evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism: to reduce initial distress, and to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning. It is for use by disaster responders including first responders, incident command systems, primary and emergency health care providers, school crisis response teams, faith-based organizations, disaster relief organizations
  • Guidelines for gender-based violence interventions in humanitarian settings IASC 2005 We also know that in times of crises and disaster there is an increased level of violence, in particular in gender based violence (GBV) . GBV is a serious problem in the context of complex emergencies and natural disasters where normal structures of society are seriously affected and alternative safeguards not yet in place. Women and children are often targets of abuse, and are the most vulnerable to exploitation, violence, and abuse simply because of their gender, age, and status in society. Women and girls that are displaced from their home will often experience multiple traumatic experiences.
  • Managing stress in humanitarian workers – Guidelines for Good Practice
    For mental health workers empathy is an essential aspect of good help. This is also a source for compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatisation or secondary traumatic stress (STS). Early recognition and awareness is crucial to be resilient to these symptoms. Awareness of this is important for workers in areas of conflict and disaster, and in extreme environments such as these, people may be more vulnerable to secondary traumatization. We also know that professionals under this kind of stress may be at risk to perform less efficiently and not perform as they would normally do. You can dowload the guidelines ( English, French, Arabic, Spanish and Albanian) at the bottom of the page.
  • Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings
    These guidelines reflect the insights of practitioners from different geographic regions, disciplines and sectors, and reflect an emerging consensus on good practice among practitioners. The core idea behind them is that, in the early phase of an emergency, social supports are essential to protect and support mental health and psychosocial well-being.
  • Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for Recovering From Natural Disasters
    APA Help Center (2005)
    When a natural disaster affects a community, the resulting trauma can reverberate even with those not directly affected by the disaster. Disasters of this type can be sudden and overwhelming. In addition to the often catastrophic toll on lives and property, a disaster like a tsunami(tidal wave), hurricane or fire can have an impact on those who have lost loved ones and even those who feel more vulnerable as a result of learning about the disaster.
  • Inter-Agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and separated children
    Children separated from their parents and families because of conflict, population displacement or natural disasters are among the most vulnerable. Separated from those closest to them, these children have lost the care and protection of their families in the turmoil, just when they most need them. They face abuse and exploitation, and even their very survival may be threatened. They may assume adult responsibilities, such as protecting and caring for younger sisters and brothers. Children and adolescents who have lost all that is familiar – home, family, friends, stability – are potent symbols of the dramatic impact of humanitarian crises on individual lives.

We appreciate feedback and comments

The Health and Human Rights 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 4.300 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

2014

Dear friends and colleagues,

“As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When individuals are attacked, abused or imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out … Today, many nations have modern constitutions that guarantee essential rights and liberties. And yet, homosexuality is considered a crime in more than 70 countries. This is not right. Yes, we recognize that social attitudes run deep. Yes, social change often comes only with time. But let there be no confusion: where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, rights must carry the day. Personal disapproval, even society’s disapproval, is no excuse to arrest, detain, imprison, harass or torture anyone, ever. “ –

UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon, 10 December 2010

The Universal Declaration of Human rights states in Article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” This article is an important reminder of the absolute right not to be discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

OHCHR claims that protecting LGBT people from violence and discrimination does not require the creation of a new set of LGBT-specific rights, nor does it require the establishment of new international human rights standards. The legal obligations of States to safeguard the human rights of LGBT people are well established in international human rights law on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently agreed international human rights treaties. All people, irrespective of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protections provided for by international human rights law.

Even so, in many countries it is not only illegal to be LGBT, but if you, as a parent, neighbor, fellow worker or physician fail to report someone if you find out, you might face charges and imprisonment.

In addition to judicial difficulties and the lack of full enjoyment of civil rights in many countries, the stigma of being LGBT may lead to a number of other serious issues, including health problems. According to the American Psychological Association (APP) several studies suggest that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals appear to have higher rates of some mental disorders compared with heterosexuals, although not to the level of a serious pathology. Discrimination, also in the area of health system may help fuel these higher rates. We are talking about the serious consequences of human rights violations on persons’ health, well-being and possibility to live according to own choices and preferences.

To follow up on the human rights perspective in relation to this, we have added a new thematic page on LGBT rights where we have collected publications on UN resolutions and documents, articles regarding LGBT and mental health and organizations that are working with LGBT issues. We would very much appreciate feedback, comments and suggestions on relevant publications to add to this page. Please check our thematic page on LGBT rights for more links.

For many, gender orientation may be related to serious and painful events, for some even traumatic experiences with the consequences known from the trauma field in general In our search for good links we found limited information regarding psychological trauma in persons with LGBT background due to stigma and persecution. But we would nevertheless take the opportunity to refer to our recently published manual about GBV where outline of what is trauma, what are trauma reactions and how to deal with them are outlined and described rather concretely. Our manual is freely available from our website.


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.


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We appreciate feedback and comments

The Health and Human Rights 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 4.300 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.

HHRI wish you a peaceful 2015 with improved conditions for justice and human rights for all.

Sincerely yours,

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

www.hhri.org

Child survivors of sexual violence

According to UNOCHA during the last civil conflict in Liberia, local media reported on a massive increase of sexual violence. Of the 658 rape survivors, nearly 50 per cent were between 5 and 12 years of age. In 90 per cent of the cases involving children, the perpetrator was someone known to the victim. This situation, we know, is not unique for Liberia.

In our work on and piloting of the training manual “Mental health and gender-based violence Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict” we have been asked several times about how to approach child survivors of sexual violence. The manual we have developed refers primarily to women and girls as victims of sexual violence. However, we know that men and boys are also victims of rape and other sexual violence, what we have observed is that it tends to be especially difficult for them to overcome these experiences, to the point of avoiding in most of the cases, talk about it. In our manual we have introduced a number of bibliographic references related to gender violence that can be used to understand a little better the situation in which men and children are trying to overcome and although in the manual are not developed in detail its own needs, links and bibliographical references included there, can help answer the questions that may arise in relation to such support specifically to them.

When talking to child survivors the use of metaphors may be a useful tool. We have used the metaphor of the butterfly woman in order to speak of the trauma event. With children you might want to use another story where the child is the hero/heroine. The grounding exercises in our manual may also be suitable for older children. For younger children you will find some good grounding exercises here.

Nevertheless we believe this manual is suitable for work with male survivors of gender-based violence as well, provided it is adapted appropriately. But a separate training module would be required for working with children (boys and girls) who survive GBV.

When preparing the manual, we did a desk review study. When doing this we found that there is little written about how to assist, and how to heal children after sexual violence in war and conflict. We have seen that a majority of publications related to this topic is related to sexual violence in close relationships.

The importance now is to focus more clearly on the situation of children survivors of sexual violence in war and conflict, who in addition to sexual violence, usually have endured other traumatic experiences as well, in situations defined by insecurity and lack of basic needs All this may inflict strongly on the short as well as long term consequences of sexual violence.

A large part of the literature concerns children, sexual violation focus on legal protection, legal provision and legal measures. We have here listed a few publications, guidelines and websites that will say more about the mental health aspect and the difference in how children and grownups react to the traumatic experience of sexual violence.

Some of you have received the manual already. For others we would like to invite you to have a closer look at the manual. It can be downloaded directly from the webpage. Please let us know if you are interested in receiving a copy of the manual, free of charge by sending us an e-mail.


Articles, publications and websites that highlight different aspects of children and sexual violence.

  • Caring for Child Survivor’s Resources Guidelines for health and psychosocial service providers in humanitarian settings
    The Caring for Child Survivors (CCS) of Sexual Abuse Guidelines were developed to respond to the gap in global guidance for health and psychosocial staff providing care and treatment to child survivors of sexual abuse in humanitarian setting. The CCS Guidelines are based on global research and evidenced-based field practice, and bring a much-needed fresh and practical approach to helping child survivors, and their families, recover and heal from the oftentimes devastating impacts of sexual abuse. (International Rescue Committee 2012).
  • Mapping of Psychosocial Support forgirls and boys affected by Child Sexual Abuse in Four Countries in South and Central Asia
    Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is one of the most serious violations of children’s rights in the South and Central Asian region. The extent of the problem is not known exactly as it is difficult to obtain data on it. However, there are clear indications that the problem is widespread and that it takes place in all spheres of life: families, schools, workplaces, communities etc. It is a well-known fact that sexual abuse has severe consequences for the concerned children and that the violation affects them for the rest of their lives. 
    (Save the children 2003)
  • Children and trauma helping families from war to Peace: trauma – stabilizing Principles for helpers, parents and children.
    What are the implications of modern trauma theory for teachers, therapists, community health workers, youth workers and parents to support the healing processes after horrors of war? This article is intended as a translation of modern trauma theory into 10 practical principles for people working with war traumatized refugee families. Complex trauma exposure can be caused by war, and children exposed to complex trauma often experience lifelong problems. 
    (Cecilie Kolflaath Larsen, Judith van der Weele 2011)
  • Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse
    that research has repeatedly shown that child sexual abuse can have a very serious impact on physical and mental health, as well as later sexual adjustment. Depending on the severity of and number of traumas experienced, child sexual abuse can have wide-reaching and long-lasting effects on an individual’s physical and mental health. Sexual abuse also tends to occur in the presence of other forms of child maltreatment and life adversity. 
    (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
  • Treatment for Abused and Neglected Children: Infancy to Age 18
    Therapy is the art and science of helping children make sense of their feelings, thoughts, and behavior and learn how to control their behavior and improve interactions with others. It is art because it calls on the therapist’s creativity, intuition, and spontaneity. It is a science because therapy with abused and neglected children is based on theory, research, and clinical studies. The goals that need to be accomplished and the techniques or interventions that help children address and grow beyond the experience of abuse and neglect are gleaned from theory and clinical literature, research, and experience.
    (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Exercises for Grounding, Emotional Regulation & Relaxation for children and their parents
    Grounding is an important therapeutic approach for handling dissociation or flashbacks, and reducing the symptoms of anxiety and panic. It is important to practice the exercises until the skill becomes automatic and can be called on even during moments of distress. The aim of grounding is to take the survivor out of whatever traumatic moment that is remembered.
    (National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health)
  • The national child traumatic stress network
    The kit provides parents and caregivers with tools to help them support children who have been victims of sexual abuse, information on the importance of talking to children and youth about body safety, and guidance on how to respond when children disclose sexual abuse. Also included is advice on how to cope with the shock of intra-familial abuse and with the emotional impact of legal involvement in sexual abuse cases (both in English and in Spanish). 
    (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
  • Qué Es el Abuso y la Negligencia de Menores? Reconociendo los Indicios y los Síntomas
    Qué Es el Abuso y la Negligencia de Menores? Reconociendo los Indicios y los Síntomas El primer paso para ayudar a los niños que han sido abusados o descuidados es reconocer los indicios del maltrato de menores. La presencia de un solo indicio no necesariamente significa que haya ocurrido el maltrato en una familia, pero merecen tomarse en cuenta si estos indicios aparecen con frecuencia o en combinación. Esta hoja informativa está diseñada para ayudarle a entender mejor la definición legal de abuso y negligencia de menores, aprender sobre los diferentes tipos de abuso y negligencia y reconocer los indicios y síntomas de abuso y negligencia. También se incluyen recursos sobre el impacto del trauma al bienestar personal.
  • Ayudando a Niños y Adolescentes a Superar la Violencia y los Desastres: Que Pueden Hacer los Padres
    Los padres y demás miembros de la familia juegan papeles importantes. Ellos ayudan a aquellos niños que experimentan violencia o desastres. Ellos ayudan a los niños a superar el trauma. Ellos ayudan a proteger a los niños de traumas adicionales. Ellos ayudan a los niños a obtener atención médica y asistencia psicológica. Ellos también ayudan a los jóvenes a evitar o superar problemas emocionales. Estos problemas pueden ser resultado de un trauma.

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 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 4.300 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

Dear friends and colleagues,

HHRI is proud to – finally, after 3 years of work – present our manual

“Mental health and gender-based violence – Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict – a training manual”,

a manual intended to assist helpers in their direct work with survivors of gender based violence.

Gender-based violence in war and conflict areas has for decades been a constant threat to civil society, and in particular women and children, and this form of violence has also been termed, a tool of war. Thousands of women have been affected by gross violations of their rights, including reproductive rights, and are struggling to get their lives back on track. Gender-based violence is a serious attack on the dignity of the survivor, and it strongly affects family and community as well. Different UN resolutions have over time aimed at placing these women’s lives on the agenda – that is to prevent, to stop, to hold to account those who are responsible and provide redress to survivors. And many good manuals and handbooks have been made to follow up on these objectives.

The Manual that we are now presenting addresses the trauma of rape and aims at creating an understanding of the impact that such events have on individuals, what kind of reactions a survivor may have and that these may be reactions that are frequently observed after violent events. There is also focus on reactions as being painful, strong and distressing. By following a story, practicing exercises, and being active in group work, the participants will explore understandings of trauma, and practice ways of dealing with trauma-related reactions. The exercises will offer the participants skills that are useful in their work with trauma survivors and give them an opportunity to discuss and share their experiences as helpers and their own good practices. At the same time much weight will be given to the importance of having a respectful and human rights based approach in this work. The aim is to enable helpers to apply these skills in a practical context, as well as approaches and attitudes addressed in the training. This is important regardless of whether they work with survivors over long periods of time or meet with them only briefly.

This manual is a training-manual, not a therapy manual. The training is designed for individuals who directly provide care, help and assistance to people who have been exposed to human rights violations and abuse, notably gender-based and sexual violence, and for personnel who support other care providers involved with the same survivor group.

To ensure its cultural applicability we have conducted trial-trainings of the manual in workshops in 5 different places or regions. You can read more about these workshops and our experiences on our website directly connected to the manual.

Some of you may have received the manual already, while some will find it in their mailbox soon. For others we would like to invite you to have a closer look at the manual at GBV-manual website. The manual can be downloaded directly from the webpage.

Let us know what you think. It is very important for our further work with the implementation of the manual that you let us know if you want to use it for training, group work or inspiration in your own work. Please send us an e-mail if you have queries regarding how it can be used in practice, we will be glad to provide some ideas and advice.

If you would like a free hard copy or a memory stick with the manual, please send us an e-mail with your address to postmaster@hhri.org and we are happy to mail it to you. We hope that this manual will be a useful tool to enable survivors to regain dignity and be empowered to be in charge of their own lives.

For further information about the team that has developed the manual please click into our new GBV-manual website.


Articles and publications that highlight different aspects of GBV: in the following we are presenting other very relevant manuals and reports.

  • Revision of the Guidelines for GBV Interventions in Humanitarian Interventions to protect the mental health of survivors must take account of broader humanitarian guidance. “Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings”, published by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC 2005), indicates the minimum support that should be in place to prevent and respond to GBV. Survivors of GBV need help to cope with immediate physical injuries, as well as psychological and social support, security, and legal redress. This guideline is now being revised and will be updated. The GBV Area of Responsibility Working Group. (“GBV AoR”), the global coordinating body for GBV in humanitarian settings, has received funding from the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration for this two-year revision project. The first year of the project will be undertaken by two consultants (Jeanne Ward and Julie Lafreniere) and be overseen by an advisory group within the GBV AoR.
  • The GBV Prevention Network
    The Network is over 500 members strong, working in 18 different countries in the Horn, East and Southern Africa to build a just and violence-free world for women. We are dedicated organizations, individuals, academics, and activists. We come from rural and urban areas, community-based organizations, academic institutions and more. We are both women and men from all walks of life. We are people who believe that violence is an injustice and that we have the power and responsibility to prevent it!
  • Course E054: Gender-based Violence Human Rights Education Associates
    This e-learning course introduces participants to general definitions, concepts and normative and legal frameworks related to concepts of gender-based violence. The course will cover forms, causes and consequences of GBV in conflict contexts, as well as on an endemic basis. Prevention and response programming, as well as models underpinning mainstreaming and targeted actions on GBV, and the need for coordinated approaches will be covered. The course will provide basic knowledge and skills on GBV to staff of international humanitarian and development organisations aiming to deepen their understanding and engagement on GBV responsive programming.
  • Humanitarian Practice Network´s Special feature GBV in emergencies
    For those who missed this special edition from February 2014 that feature GBV in humanitarian crises. International concern over GBV in emergencies has grown significantly in recent years, and good practice standards, guidelines, training resources and other tools have been developed. Yet as Dharini Bhuvanendra and Rebecca Holmes point out in their article on the findings of their recent review of literature on GBV in humanitarian contexts, very little of the evidence and learning from good practice has been adequately documented or disseminated, and there is a profound lack of agreement amongst humanitarian practitioners on how to define, prevent and respond to GBV.
  • Verdad, justicia y reparación:Cuarto informe sobre la situaciónde derechos humanos en Colombia www.cidh.org
    COMISIÓN INTERAMERICANA DE DERECHOS HUMANOSOEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc. 49/1331 de diciembre 2013 Original: Español Verdad, justicia y reparación : Cuarto informe sobre la situación
    La Comisión constata en su informe el grave impacto que continúa teniendo el prolongado conflicto armado interno colombiano en la situación de derechos humanos en el país. La guerra ha conjugado todas las formas de violencia y ha acontecido en los lugares más apartados, perpetuando y acentuando contextos de discriminación y exclusión social histórica, en especial con los sectores en mayor situación de vulnerabilidad, en particular, personas afrodescendientes, raizales y palenqueras; niños, niñas y adolescentes; pueblos indígenas; mujeres; periodistas y comunicadores sociales; personas lesbianas, gays, trans, bisexuales e intersex, y personas privadas de libertad.
  • Mujeres en territorios urbanos de inseguridad
    HUMANAS 2011
    This report of Corporación Humanas, which is the result of cooperation with scholars, representatives of NGOs and religious organizations, is a recollection of information regarding the cities of Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta and Kennedy, suburb of Bogotá, in order to understand how the dynamics of the violence and the armed conflict affect the lifes of women.
    Desde 2011 la Corporación Humanas viene recogiendo información en las ciudades de Barranquilla, Cartagena y San Marta y en la localidad de Kennedy de Bogotá, para comprender mejor cómo las dinámicas de la violencia urbana afectan la vida de las mujeres y si estas dinámicas tienen relación con las transformaciones que en los últimos años ha tenido el conflicto armado en Colombia.
  • Desplazamiento Forzado y Violencia Sexual Basada en Género BUENAVENTURA, COLOMBIA: REALIDADES BRUTALESNRC 2014
    El vínculo existente entre el desplazamiento forzado y la violencia sexual basada en género, en el marco del conflicto armado en Colombia es cada vez más evidente. Este documento describe cómo la violencia sexual se ha constituido en una práctica habitual y frecuente en el contexto colombiano. A través de la visión de sobrevivientes de este delito y de la experiencia de trabajo de varias mujeres de Buenaventura (una de las ciudades más afectadas por el conflicto armado) se exponen elementos para la comprensión de esta práctica regular e invisible, que afecta miles de mujeres en Colombia.
  • Forced Displacement and Gender-based Sexual Violence BUENAVENTURA, COLOMBIA: BRUTAL REALITIES NRC 2014
    The relationship existing between forced displacement and gender-based sexual violence within the framework of the armed conflict in Colombia has become ever more obvious. This document describes how sexual violence has become a habitual, frequent practice within the Colombian context. Through the viewpoints of survivors of this crime and the work experience of several women from Buenaventura (one of the cities most affected by the armed conflict), factors are explained which help to understand this common yet invisible practice that affects thousands of women in Colombia1 .
  • The Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) Dataset sexualviolencedata.org 2014
    The Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) Dataset measures reports of the conflict-related sexual violence committed by armed actors (state forces, pro-government militias and rebel groups) during the years 1989-2009. The dataset includes information about the prevalence, perpetrators, victims, forms, timing, and locations of the reported sexual violence by each armed actor in each conflict-year.

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We appreciate feedback and comments

The Health and Human Rights 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 4.300 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

The right to redress for GBV survivors

“Victims of sexual violence bear the cost of the harm they suffered with dramatic physical, psychological and material consequences which destroy not only their lives but often also the lives of their children. This creates irreparable damage to the very fabric of societies and in turn poses serious threats to the prospects of reconciliation and sustainable peace and development.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay

Rape, being recognized as torture or other ill-treatment, may today be prosecuted as an act of torture (and therefore subject to universal jurisdiction). Rape is furthermore identified as a war crime (state and non-state actors), a crime against humanity (state and non-state actors) and as genocide (state and non-state actors). This means that the right to redress is enforceable for victims of GBV according to the Convention against torture art. 14, and outlined in General comment no 3 on the implementation of article 14.

For survivors of GBV to seek redress after what they have suffered may be important steps in reestablishing the survivor´s dignity and integrity. Recognizing the violations as serious crimes that must be addressed through truth and justice seeking, may form an important platform in the lives of survivors, but this must often be combined with forms of reparation such as providing care and support with regard to physical, psychological or social needs through a range of services. The right to a remedy and reparation is thus, articulated as an integrated right that consists of access to justice, compensation, rehabilitation and other forms of reparation. We have, pursuant to the adoption of General Comment no 3, to article 14 of the CAT, been particularly aware of the importance of ensuring psychological support to survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence, both immediately after the violence if possible, and as part of reparation. In order to strengthen the focus on psychological needs of survivors, HHRI has developed a manual to assist helpers who meet victims of these crimes in situations where specialized services may be scarce and the level of insecurity high. See more information on our manual further down.

As for the main theme in this newsletter we have gathered important articles that address the issue of redress to GBV survivors, including the legal as well as the physical, psychological and social aspects.


Articles and publications that highlight the importance of securing redress for GBV survivors

  • What is reparation? Challenges and avenues to reparation for survivors of sexual violenceRedress 2013
    For many victims, monetary compensation, while helpful, is not necessarily the first form of reparation that comes to mind. In many instances, victims will be living in dire physical, psychological or social conditions and have immediate as well as long term needs, both for themselves but also for their dependents. They may need services or the financial means to access services. However the mere provision of compensation or services would not amount to full and adequate compensation on account of the absence of recognition of wrongdoing.
  • Redress for Rape Using international jurisprudence on rape as a form of torture or other ill-treatment Redress 2013
    It is now clearly established at the international level that rape is a crime of the highest order, that states do have the responsibility to prevent and respond to it, whoever commits it, and that survivors of rape are entitled to the same level of protection and response as any other victim of violence. Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment3 are high profile international crimes and human rights violations. Advocates and others have drawn on the torture framework to pursue individual cases and to push for policy change. The primary aim of this report is to bring together the developing international human rights law jurisprudence and significant other writing linking rape and torture and other ill-treatment in a comprehensive and useable way.
  • Gender and torture – conference report
    Conference report the recognition of certain forms of harm inflicted by both state and non-state actors including rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation and denial of reproductive rights as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the practical effect this recognition has had in actual cases to hold states to account for their failure to prevent such violations, and to provide a remedy to victims.
  • Protection and restitution for survivors of SGBV in Uganda 2010 ACORD Uganda
    Some forms of reparation may find a legal basis in domestic law or in international human rights law, while other forms are a matter of government policies and priorities. The right to compensation for survivors of torture is an individual subjective right in Uganda’s domestic legal system and is justiciable in criminal, civil, administrative or other proceedings.
  • Healing the spirit: Reparations for survivors of sexual violence related to the armed conflict in Kosovo OHCHR 2013
    OHCHR commissioned this study with three primary aims: to highlight the most prevalent consequences of sexual violence committed during the armed conflict in Kosovo; to analyse the current state of affairs with respect to reparations for these crimes; and to highlight the most desirable forms and methods to provide redress for these crimes from the perspective of its survivors.
  • DRC victims of sexual violence rarely obtain justice and never receive reparation – Major changes needed to fight impunity FIDH 2013
    In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), victims of sexual crimes are facing insurmountable obstacles to obtain justice and reparation. The cost of proceedings is prohibitive and judicial decisions are hardly implemented. This is the damaging picture described in a report FIDH and its member organisations in DRC are publishing today, following several missions in that country.
    Report of the Panel on Remedies and Reparations for Victims of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the High Commissioner for Human Rights OHCHR 2011
    This need to raise the status of victims of sexual violence and publicly shift the blame from victims to their perpetrators is integral to the reparation of victims of sexual violence and adds a unique dimension to the task. The reparations fund envisioned by the National Strategy to Combat Gender-Based Violence in the DRC is a fund specifically for victims of sexual violence.
  • Nairobi declaration on women’s and girls’ right to a remedy and Reparation OHCHR 2013
    OHCHR commissioned this study with three primary aims: to highlight the most prevalent consequences of sexual violence committed during the armed conflict in Kosovo; to analyse the current state of affairs with respect to reparations for these crimes; and to highlight the most desirable forms and methods to provide redress for these crimes from the perspective of its survivors.

Latest about our training manual on GBV and Mental Health consequences

We are now in the final stage of our training manual for helpers working with GBV survivors. The manual is designed for individuals who directly provide care, help and assistance to people who have been exposed to human rights violations and abuse, notably gender-based and sexual violence, and for personnel who support other care providers involved with the same survivor group. To ensure the quality and that the manual is useful in different cultural settings, we conducted four pilots in 2013. This was done in cooperation with LIMPAL-Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad, in Colombia, Human Rights Foundation Turkey in Adana, Turkey. In Cambodia we cooperated with AFESIP-Cambodia on the third pilot training and with Kristin Andrea Wilmann on a mini-pilot in Oslo, Norway. The last training was conducted together with Arab Resource Collective in Amman, Jordan. Please let us know if you are interested in receiving a copy of the manual, free of charge.


Facebook

Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page 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

As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI 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 4.300 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

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