Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence in Conflict

Talk Tuesday 3 June 2014, 7:00 PM

On 10 June, world leaders and NGOs will gather in London for a global summit with the aim to create “irreversible momentum against sexual violence in conflict and practical action that impacts those on the ground”. Ahead of the summit, we will be joined by a panel of speakers who have been working towards this aim for many years. They will be discussing what needs to be done to make it a reality.

The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been described as the “rape capital of the world”. Increased cases of sexual violence against women in DRC coincided with the emerging armed conflicts of the early 1990s. Although Congolese law criminalises many forms of sexual violence, these laws are often not enforced.

With a particular focus on the DRC our panel will be mapping out what is being done to help individuals and societies affected by sexual violence and what more needs to be done. We will be asking what measures can be put in place to help victims bring the perpetrators to justice.

Chaired by Liz Ford, deputy editor of The Guardian’s Global Development website.

The panel:

Doctor Juliet Cohen is head of doctors at UK-based charity Freedom from Torture. She specialises in the examination of victims of torture, domestic violence and trafficking and has written over 1000 forensic reports documenting the psychological and physical sequelae of torture, including rape, for use in international protection claims. In 2012 she provided an expert witness statement on late disclosure of sexual violence for the European Court of Human Rights and is a commentator to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the new International Protocol on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Fiona Lloyd-Davies is an award winning filmmaker and photojournalist who has worked in areas of conflict for over 20 years. She’s been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001 making films for the BBC, Al Jazeera, Channel 4 News and France24. In recent years her work has been supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and led to the completion of Seeds of Hope – a feature length documentary that tells the story of women survivors of sexual violence in Eastern DRC through the extraordinary life and work of multiple rape survivor, Masika Katsuva. Seeds of Hope will be shown as part of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, details hereShe has just finished a film about the Minova rape trial which will be shown on BBC Newsnight.

Serge-Eric is a co-founder and member of the Survivors Speak OUT! (SSO) network. SSO is a group of torture survivors and former clients of Freedom from Torture who draw on their lived experience of torture and seeking protection through asylum in the UK, to influence decision-makers and raise public awareness of the challenges facing survivors trying to rebuild their lives. The network has worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the development of a new International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Sarah Cotton is the public affairs and communications advisor for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Mission in the UK and Ireland. She leads the work of the ICRC with Parliament and works in both the UK and Ireland to communicate ICRC policy, operations and concerns. She also works to develop and disseminate ICRC policy on sexual violence and violence against healthcare. In this capacity she travelled to Lebanon in April 2014 to join an assessment of sexual violence in Syria.

Photograph: Andrew McConnell, 2008. A woman who was raped by a government soldier recovers at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma. Sexual violence has become systematic in DRC with the brutality of attacks often leaving the victims with severe damage to reproductive organs, resulting in multiple fistulas and incontinence. An average of 1,100 rape cases are reported each month.