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We support women and girls in war and crisis zones

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medica mondiale Media Centre

German Translation of the spoken text in the video

Background
In 2014 Medica Zenica and medica mondiale conducted a study with 51 survivors of war rape and sexual violence from Bosnia and Herzegovina who had used Medica Zenica's services during and after the war. Within the qualitative methodology, seven participants were selected according to certain relevant criteria to take part in life story interviews; a special type of in-depth interview providing additional information about the long-term impacts of war rape and sexual violence, and a longitudinal perspective of coping processes. In this video, Zehra tells us her story.


Credits
Medica Zenica, Sabiha Husi?; Irma Šiljak (2016). We are still alive. 7 Life Stories. The story of Zehra. Actress: Selma Alispahic. Director: InfoBiro.


Here you can watch the video clip of the study and read the summary of the research.

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medica mondiale (mm) began its work in Afghanistan in April 2002, and in December 2010, medica mondiale Afghanistan registered as the Afghan NGO Medica Afghanistan (MA) and now operates as a selfcontained national organization, run by Afghan women for Afghan women with continued support from mm in terms of capacity building, financial support, and project cooperation. MA is a non-profit, non-governmental Afghan women’s organization working towards the elimination of violence against women through the provision of legal aid, psychosocial support, capacity building and advocacy.

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During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) from 1992 to 1995, between 20,000 and 50,000 women and girls were raped. Many of them were subjected to sexualised violence in concentration camps for periods of months.

This led to outrage throughout the world, in particular with regard to the systematic mass rape of Muslim Bosnian women carried out as a method of warfare by Bosnian-Serbian and Bosnian-Croatian militia. In spite of the international attention, no process of coming to terms with these crimes found its way into the Dayton Peace Agreement.

As a consequence, the rights and interests of survivors of sexualised wartime violence1 have not received appropriate consideration within the peace process. With this situation in mind, the women’s rights organisations Medica Zenica and medica mondiale carried out a study on the long-term consequences of wartime rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina2. The research results provide insights into effective approaches for supporting affected women and girls.


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The complex realities of life for Liberian women and girls in the South East of the country are shaped by both suffering and growth. medica mondiale’s approach to working in the region, which was developed through constantly adjusting our methods and interventions based on the intense experience of learning both from and with Liberian women and girls since 2007, reflects a fruitful and ongoing process of becoming increasingly rooted in that reality. As part of this development, in 2014 medica’s Liberian program evolved into an independent women’s rights organization called “medica Liberia”.
These two organizations now work as partners, sharing fundamental views and approaches towards fighting gender-based violence and following a double strategy that offers direct services, such as reproductive health, legal support and psychosocial counseling, while engaging in lobbying for structural changes and institutional responses such as the implementation of new laws and policies that protect women and girls and guarantee access to fulfilling their rights.
This concept paper wishes to focus on medica Liberia’s psychosocial approach, which is ONE intervention strategy within the overall program. It particularly aims at clarifying and defining what we hold as our key values and highlighting the core psychosocial logic and main psychosocial interventions that guide our work.

  1. Introduction:
    The complex reality of gender-based violence in Liberia and medica Liberia‘s psychosocial response
  2. We work against genderbased violence, which we understand as violence that happens because of gender and gender expectations
  3. Our work is informed by our strong feminist values
  4. medica Liberia has developed and implemented a community-based psychosocial approach in the South East of Liberia
  5. Our community-based psychosocial approach unfolds at different levels: from community support groups up to specialized psychosocial counselors
  6. medica Liberia’s psychosocial approach is based on the principle of trauma-sensitivity, a unique concept developed by medica mondiale
  7. We practice a multi-disciplinary approach both within medica Liberia and in collaboration with other agencies in the field.
  8. Our work ultimately contributes to building strong protection networks for women and girls
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Evaluation (2013-2016) proofs: Medica Gjakova in Kosovo provides full Support for survivors of sexualized violence

In Autumn 2015, medica mondiale commissioned two assessors, Petra Scheuer-mann and Erinda Bllaca, to visit the women’s rights organisation Medica Gjakova and evaluate the project which had been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and medica mondiale. Women are provided with psy-chological and medical assistance, as well as support to claim their right to com-pensation and help to secure their own livelihood.

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This document lists the Goals and Indicators for our International Programme Work. Our aims include e.g.

  • Standardise and upgrade measures and instruments for ensuring professionalism in stress- and trauma-sensitive psychosocial work
  • Support governmental and non-governmental health care services’ integration of stress- and trauma-sensitive as well as empowerment approaches
  • Support of partner organisations in their advocacy work
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Since its establishment in 1993, medica mondiale has been pursuing the task of confronting sexualised violence in war at all levels with a firm, uncompromising, and active commitment to the rights of women. Changing political and social circumstances as well as internal growth and changed processes required a strategic reorientation. The international strategy of medica mondiale came into force in July 2012 and was revised in March 2016. Since the duration of the strategy has been extended until 2020, goals and indicators were adapted at the end of 2014.
The present paper was worked out by an interdisciplinary team of employees of medica mondiale.
 Following underlying principles are decisive for our commitment abroad:

- We provide holistic, interdisciplinary support for surviving women
- We want to change societal structures
- We develop and support local expertise and capacities
- We are not an emergency humanitarian organization. Our commitment is long-term.

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“I survived the war – but how can I survive the peace?” In 2014 we received the
results of a study on the long-term consequences of rape in war, which we carried
out with our partners in Medica Zenica. This lament from a Bosnian woman vividly
illustrates how hard survivors have to struggle with the repercussions of their rape,
even years later.

The study shows that we can give good support to women affected by violence, both
during a crisis and afterwards. They have gained new courage for facing their difficulties,
and have gone back to living their lives. But the study also shows that the rapes
and the – extremely difficult – overall post-war situation place a strain on them to this
day. Many women feel they have been failed by society, and by politics. They have
been stigmatised and ostracised, and are still given the blame for what they endured.
There are no state structures to support women as they struggle to cope. Neither in
the health nor the judicial system are staff trained in how to deal professionally with
people affected by sexualised violence. Indeed, there is even no awareness of the
fact that the impact of this violence is felt deep within society, affecting everything.
So we must keep on launching initiatives and campaigns to prevent rapes from being
dismissed as the problem of individual women. We must keep on calling for patriarchal
structures to be recognised as a cause – otherwise all efforts, no matter how
well-meaning, are doomed to failure.

We see this even today, a year after the “Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in
Conflict“ was held in London. We warmly welcomed the serious political will of former
British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie on this
occasion. This was the first conference at a high political level to put sexualised violence
in conflict explicitly on the international agenda. It aimed to spark a change in the public
perception and prosecution of rapists worldwide. But even this initiative falls short
of the mark. If rape in wartime continues to be portrayed merely as a tactic of war, and
the prevailing images of masculinity – under which men also suffer – are ignored, the
problem will, time and again, be dismissed as “a wartime phenomenon”. And there
will be no real shift in awareness, and the violence will continue.

Thank you for having followed and supported us over the past year!
With your help, we can carry on working for a better, fairer world.

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