Editor’s Note: This message was originally published by Refugee Law Project on 16 October 2019
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We are pleased to share with you the Civil Society Declaration on Sexual Violence!
We very much hope you will find the time to read this final product of ‘Call It What It Is’, a multi-stakeholder consultation and campaign led by Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice (WIGJ) and involving survivors, activists, academics and practitioners. The Campaign “calls on the collective strength of civil society to give survivors of sexual violence in conflict a voice in shaping contemporary, victim-centric and contextually relevant guidance to international criminal law practitioners on what makes violence sexual” – (WIGJ 2019).
Refugee Law Project was particularly pleased to contribute to the Declaration through the consultation with male survivors of sexual violence with whom we have worked and whose recovery we have supported in the districts of Kampala, Kiryandongo, Adjumani, and Lamwo.
As an institution, we support the declaration and the process that led to the final text. Specifically, the declaration courageously re-tables often difficult debates on the long-held understanding of “Rape as a Weapon of War”. It expands the understanding of sexual violence by demonstrating, with examples, the broad contexts, manifestations, and multiple forms that sexual violence takes, including but not limited to rape. The fact that we should be talking of ‘Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War’ is one of the issues we have for long been emphasising through our work with survivors of sexual violence from the Great Lakes region, Eastern Africa and Horn of Africa.
We believe the declaration highlights a new array of issues for actors keen to address sexual violence comprehensively. Should you have questions regarding the conceptualisation and content of the Declaration, kindly do not hesitate to write to Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice. Also, should you require additional information regarding our section of consultation with male survivors, kindly write to [email protected].
We look forward to engaging further on this document and related issues as we seek to realise contexts where all actors can truly ‘Call It What It Is‘.