The Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) aims to raise awareness of the extent of sexual violence against women, men, girls and boys in situations of armed conflict and rally global action to end it.
PSVI was founded in 2012 by former Foreign Secretary Lord William Hague of Richmond and United Nations Special Envoy of the High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie Pitt.
UK leadership of PSVI has driven forward the efforts of governments, militaries, international organisations and civil society to establish a number of UN resolutions and G8 declarations addressing this issue. In 2014 the UK hosted the first ever Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which cemented global political will and put PSVI firmly on the world map and the international peace and security agenda.
In June 2017 Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon was appointed as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Over the coming years the Initiative will continue to foster collaboration between foreign governments, the UN, AU, international organisations and civil society to end sexual violence in conflict. The UK’s focus will be on 3 key areas:
- Challenging harmful attitudes towards survivors and victims of sexual violence in conflict and working to end the stigma they suffer.
- Delivering better access to healthcare, psycho-social support and livelihood programmes, justice for survivors and further training on the International Protocol.
- Improving how security forces and peacekeeping missions around the world prevent and respond to these crimes by continuing to train the military and police personnel on issues of sexual violence in conflict internationally and bilaterally.
Work to date
Since 2012 we have trained over 17,000 military and police personnel on sexual violence issues, sent over 80 deployments of the UK team of experts to affected countries, committed over £33 million in UK funding and supported numerous projects around the world.
The UK’s work has focused on countries such as Burma, Bosnia, Colombia, DRC, Iraq, Kosovo, Mali, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria, CAR, Burundi and Nigeria.
- challenged the stigmas associated with sexual violence to reduce the risk of survivors and victims being ostracised from their families and communities
- supported survivors and victims with medical, psycho-social and legal support to help them rebuild their lives and receive necessary medical care. We have also supported survivors and victims with the legal process to bring perpetrators to account
- launched the International Protocol for the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict to support survivors and victims to access justice. This has been translated it into 10 languages to ensure that human rights defenders, lawyers and police and military forces have the right tools and training to gather evidence to strengthen the prosecution of sexual violence perpetrators
- supported affected countries with legal reform, which has led to the recognition of such crimes for the first time, the signing of communiqués, development of action plans, landmark rulings by courts and compensation being awarded in some of these countries
- built the capacity of governments, judiciary, police, military and civil society to gather evidence and strengthen prosecutions
- provided training to military and police personnel, peacekeepers, grassroots organisations and human rights defenders on sexual violence issues. As first responders they have a crucial role to play when meeting a survivor or victim for the first time
- supported around 50 projects with human rights defenders, civil society, grassroots organisations and international partners to deliver the above
Who we work with
The PSVI is a cross-government initiative with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, Department of International Development and the Home Office working to address the needs of survivors and victims and to end sexual violence in conflict.
We also work with a number of national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs / INGOs) and civil society who work in country to help and support survivors, rebuild communities, fight for justice and press for domestic changes.
Examples of our work
Supported the NGO ‘TRIAL’ in their legal work with survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In June 2014, TRIAL secured a landmark ruling which saw a former soldier sentenced to over 8 years in prison and ordered to pay more than £10,000 in compensation to the woman he raped in 1993.
We have also worked with INGOs with the mapping of legislation in Iraq to identify barriers to holding perpetrators of sexual violence to account and determining how these can be addressed.
Supported the training of health professionals and human rights defenders in Syria in collecting and preserving evidence of human rights abuses, including sexual violence, for future prosecutions.
In August 2015 the Cantonal Court in Zenica granted ‘civil war victim’ status to a male survivor from Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time which was supported by Medica Zenica.
Assisted a project in Colombia to create a network of women survivors of sexual violence and support professionals across 5 regions (Putumayo, Nariño, Bolívar, Cesar and Meta). The network provides assistance to survivors seeking justice and promoting their leadership in prevention programs.
In the DRC we have funded a Tearfund initiative to support survivors of sexual violence. Through this project, more than 200 survivors have come forward to receive counselling, and 75 faith leaders have received training responding to sexual violence and the needs of survivors.