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Exploring strategies to address Conflict Related Sexual Violence.

Workshop "The Role of Women in Preventive and Response Strategies on CRSV" 16 November 2021

Format: PDF   Size: 1.1 MB   Date: Feb 2022   Pages: 17    Copyright: NATO Southern Hub   Tags: Africa – Women - CRSV - FEMWISE.


In conflict situations, sexual violence against women and girls is used systematically as a weapon for achieving political and military ends. Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) refers to all forms of sexual violence that is linked to a conflict and which deliberately targets civilians, inflicting long-term trauma and humiliation, fracturing families and the social fabric. FemWise-Africa, women peacebuilders from Africa, and the NSD-S Hub, came together to discuss possible policy options to address this.

Background:

FemWise-Africa, together with the NSD-S Hub, works tirelessly to identify common areas of collaboration and to chart a way forward to enhance the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, with particular focus on the role of women in conflict prevention and mediation. 

In this regard, FemWise-Africa's members and women peacebuilders across the African continent are at the forefront in the fight against CRSV. The highly destructive effects of CRSV on the victims and their families in terms of mental and physical health, employment and financial difficulties are all too evident.

The meeting and subsequent research collaboration revealed a clear request by local practitioners to provide support to develop a methodology to strengthen the role of women in CRSV, particularly decision-making positions, rehabilitation processes and training programmes within and beyond the security sector.

Research questions:

1. What is the current situation regarding CRSV and its impact in Africa?

2. Which strategies and measures would be most suitable to tackle CRSV?


3. How can we provide ways to support the strengthening of women's roles in preventive strategies regarding CRSV?

Key insights

  • Historically imbalanced power relations between men and women have resulted in domination over and discrimination against women by men. This is enforced by cultural and religious norms.
  • It is essential to provide "holistic care" to victims of CRSV. The overall circumstances of the victims (e.g., cultural, psychological, etc.) should be considered and care must be designed accordingly.
  • The role of women should be strengthened in these processes, especially for the creation of "Women's Situation Rooms", composed mostly of women's groups to undertake early warning and conflict prevention measures.
  • Many survivors of CRSV do not report crimes of sexual violence because of fear of rejection and embarrassment within their communities. They described the scenario as one of a combination of enforced and self-sanctioned silence.
  • The security actors, including the judiciary and law enforcement, should be part of the prevention and response cycle. There is a need to strengthen the capacities to handle allegations of crimes of sexual violence appropriately.
  • It is pivotal not just to focus on the role of the judiciary and prosecutorial approaches in addressing these violations, but also to identify and address the multiple causes of violence (structural, cultural and socio-economic).
  • Political and socio-economic factors are often the root causes of internal conflicts and, in many cases, gender-based violence is still not a priority.


Key recommendations

To develop a mechanism to effectively address CRSV in Africa
  • collaboration with peacekeeping centers of excellence to build capacities among women leaders, security sector personnel and decision-makers to prevent and respond to CRSV;
  • advocacy for the implementation and enforcement of CRSV related WPS instruments in Africa;
  • provision of evidence-based research on CRSV through documentation, data collation and analysis;
  • ensuring that a defined percentage of international funds currently distributed to CSO's, NGO's and other organizations are reallocated to assist in fighting CRSV and that a provision of direct benefits goes to the victims;
  • reinforcing the link between NATO and FemWise-Africa on CRSV policies and best practice sharing.

Story by The Southern Hub

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