#EndStigma:Tackling the stigma associated with survivors of sexual violence in conflict

Survivors can be ostracized from their communities, shunned by their families, denied justice and cut off from support networks. This can prevent community reconciliation and wider post-conflict stabilisation which is why the focus of the PSVI over the coming years will be on tackling the stigma that survivors face. We strongly encourage all members of the international community, including governments, international organisations, NGOs, faith, community and other civil society groups, to join us in this effort.

The campaign

In 2016 we 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. Many survivors of sexual violence in conflict are often 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.

Following eye witness accounts and to help address this issue, Baroness Anelay, the UK Prime Ministers Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PMSR) has committed to work to tackle the stigma that many survivors face.

The campaign started in 2016 and throughout that year we have held a series of workshops in Burma, Colombia, Iraq, Kosovo, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Uganda. These brought together survivors, experts, local governments, civil society, media and faith groups to identify and understand some of the issues associated with and challenges to tackling stigma. Baroness Anelay then took these findings to a UK hosted conference, November 2016, in order to bring together the findings and continue discussions on how to tackle stigma.

The conference report and the conference outcomes are contributing to the development of a set of principles and recommendations that will help inform the work of other donor governments and the international community to incorporate tackling the stigmas associated with SVC into their own work. Civil society, survivors, Whitehall stakeholders, donors and international organisations continue to be instrumental in shaping the document. Baroness Anelay will launch the final document, the Principles for Global Action, at the United Nations in September 2017 with the aim of mobilising and generating increased political will and resources to prevent and tackle the stigmas associated with SVC.

We will be delivering of a new round of in-country workshops to contextualise overarching and thematic recommendations set out in the Principles document with the desired outcome of a series of clearly defined, country specific, actions for donors and conflict affected countries to take forward.

In 2016 we provided financial support to projects to tackle stigma in Burma, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Somalia, the DRC, Sri Lanka, South Sudan and Uganda. These projects helped deliver capacity building on advocacy, protection, survivor support, evidence gathering, judicial reform, prosecution and reparations work. They have also contributed to combating stigma by working with faith leaders, community members and youth groups to change attitudes, improve response systems and prevent stigmatisation.

Wilton Park event overview

Wilton Park report

Draft Principles for Global Action

Baroness Anelay blog on tackling stigma

Published 9 March 2017