World news story

Ending stigma against survivors of sexual violence in conflict

The British High Commission supported a dialogue on ending stigma against survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Uganda.

Participants at dialogue
Participants at the dialogue on ending stigma against survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

On Tuesday 19 September, the British High Commission supported a dialogue on ending stigma against survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. The dialogue was organised by World Vision and the International Centre for Transitional Justice.

The dialogue was attended by representatives of government, parliament, the judiciary, faith leaders and civil society. Discussions revolved around defining the context of stigma in Uganda, understanding the impact and legacy of the sexual violence perpetrated during the LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda and enhancing access to justice for survivors.

Many survivors of sexual violence in conflict are ostracized from their communities and disowned by their families. They are unable to heal after suffering horrific abuses and are denied support by those closest to them. They may be denied access to justice and even to basic services, as well as being exposed to the risk of further violence.

In recognition of these challenges, the UK has recently launched new work to tackle the stigma associated with sexual violence to challenge the negative attitudes and misunderstandings that cause further suffering to survivors and children born as a result of rape. In the last year, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict has travelled around the world meeting survivors of sexual violence and hearing their stories about stigma. As a result, the UK has led the development of a set of global principles and recommendations to tackle and prevent stigma. The principles will be launched at this year’s UN General Assembly.

Joe Bolton and Douglas Peter Okao.
Head of Political at the British High Commission, Joseph Bolton, with one of the dialogue panelists Mr Douglas Peter Okao at the event.

Speaking during the dialogue, Joseph Bolton, Head of the Political Section at the British High Commission, said:

Tackling survivor stigma is a huge challenge, but if we face it together I believe it is a challenge we can overcome. In doing so, we would be transforming the lives of survivors and future generations afflicted by the legacy of sexual violence. That is too great a prize for us to ignore.

Published 20 September 2017