“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.
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.