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We support women and girls in war and crisis zones

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medica mondiale Media Centre

“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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Fifteen years ago, the United Nations Security Council called for the protection of women and girls during armed conflict when it passed Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security”. However, current crises such as those in South Sudan and Iraq demonstrate how sexualised and other forms of gender-based violence are still gruesome reality for many women and girls.

Together with the German Federal Government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, Christoph Strässer, medica mondiale organised an Expert Dialogue in July 2015 on the topic “From rhetoric to practice: Strategies to prevent violence against women and girls during conflicts.” medica mondiale has compiled and published the presentations and discussions from the event in the form of a documentation.

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On October 11, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) organised its “Outlook Congress 2015” in Mainz, where some 500 participants discussed future directions for party policies. The founder of medica mondiale, Monika Hauser, was invited to take part as an independent expert. She spoke in the session on German foreign policy, together with the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “Peace requires justice for men and for women!” – this was the heart of Monika Hauser’s message.

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Original title: "Djeluju?i ka dostojanstvu" - Dokumentarni film 10'

In 2013 medica mondiale and her partner organisation Medica Zenica celebrated their 20th anniversary. Medica Zenica took up its work when in 1993 Monika Hauser together with Bosnian collegues opened a project house for supporting women survivors of war and sexualised violence.

The documentation film „Working towards dignity“ gives an overview of the work and mission of Medica Zenica. Different areas of the work of Medica Zenica are introduced, such as the Safe House or the Children Drop Center. It is pointed out that several publications made it possible for the organisation to gain attention and support by public figures such as UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie.

Sabiha Husic, director of Medica Zenica, explains that from the beginning Medica Zenica supports not only women who survived sexualised violence in war but also survivors of domestic violence or violence in the community.

Comments by Medica Zenica staff, beneficiaries as well as politicians shape a clear picture of the organisations work and highlight its importance.

The services that "Medica" provides include not only psychological or medical assistance, but also occupational therapy, legal aid and economic empowerment through vocational training courses also in rural areas, which are highly valued by their beneficiaries.

„Medica Zenica is the only organisation that came to our areas, rural areas – villages where no one comes. And they provided us with education and enabled it to be recorded into our work cards. That is a huge point!“ explains one of the clients. Another woman shares: „Medica Zenica gave me a lot, from psychological up to economic empowerment. I can simply provide a better future to my children."

Along with direct work with survivors of war trauma and post-war violence, Medica Zenica implements a variety of educational, research, advocacy, and publishing projects.

Husejin Smalovic, mayor of Zenica, outlines: „Everything that others have missed, everything hat others were supposed to do – Medica (Zenica) did.”


Video about the Research "We are still alive" on the long-term consequences of war rape and coping strategies of survivors in Bosnia Herzegovina

Research "We are still alive" and summary of the research on the long-term consequences of war rape and coping strategies of survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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medica mondiale has been working in Liberia since 2006. As with previous projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan, it had always been the long-term aim to turn medica mondiale Liberia into an independent organisation. After nine years it became possible: On June 1, 2015, medica Liberia officially passed into the hands of local female experts.

The consequences of the severe Ebola crisis are still very tangible but the independence of the Liberian organisation is nonetheless a reason to be joyful – for us and our colleagues in Kosovo and Afghanistan, too. With this video message we are sending our congratulations to Liberia, paying tribute to the many steps, both great and small, which were and still will be necessary on the path of becoming a Liberian women’s rights organisation.

Monika Hauser, founder of medica mondiale: “I am very proud how brave and strong you have been to deal with this situation. We will continue our common fight for a better life for Liberian women and girls.”

Humaira Rasuli, Director of Medica Afghanistan: “In Afghanistan we say that it takes a decade to move from transition to transformation. You will do it!”

Sybille Fezer, Program Manager for Liberia at medica mondiale: “We wish you for your challenging work the wings and the joy of a bird, the stubbornness and endurance of a turtle, the flexibility of bamboo, the smartness of a mouse, the wisdom of a squirrel and the love of true human beings.”


Music: www.audionautix.com

Copyright: medica mondiale

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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. This is the summary of the research.
Full Title: "We are still alive. We have been harmed but we are brave and strong.” Second revised edition. (November 2014).
© Medica Zenica & medica mondiale


Video about the main research results and recommendations:



The research results show a complex picture of both continuous suffering for most survivors – due to the chronified posttraumatic dynamics and other challenges of mental and physical health, but also a perceived lack of social acknowledgement, lack of protection and ongoing life stressors – and a considerable ability to cope and recreate their lives and their relationships with others, giving rise to a number of relevant recommendations.

These recommendations are meant to reflect both the needs of survivors and the greater context of suffering as portrayed in the research results, namely its societal dimensions: Our research clearly revealed transgenerational effects of the survivors’ trauma on their children, as well as the wounds of war rape and sexual violence that remain unhealed and are reinforced and chronified by the tremendous lack of social acknowledgement and protection. Therefore, the recommendations need to be conceptualised in line with the international obligations of the state and entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina that guarantee access to justice and reparation. They should also be firmly placed within the national peace-building and reconciliation agenda.


Researchers: Sabiha Husi?, M.Sc., Irma Šiljak, Emina Osmanovi?, Ferida ?eki?, Lejla Heremi?


Consultants: Dr. Simone Lindorfer, Dr. Elvira Durakovi?-Belko, Andreja Dugandži?, Nejra ?engi?


Video Production: Film by Basti Hansen & Gil Nissan
Research and Summary of the Research

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Despite security and political challenges over the past three month, Medica Afghanistan provided a range of services to women in need, along with our very important advocacy initiatives to help women in the country one step further toward their equal rights.

High profile attacks occurred in Kabul city

In this last quarter, Afghanistan achieved a landmark by inaugurating a new National Unity government after a five-month standstill caused by claims of fraud in the presidential election. This development coincided with the termination of the ISAF combat mission at the end of 2014. Since then, the level of violence is increasing. The number of suicide attacks causing civilian and Afghan security forces casualties has reached its highest recorded level. During the last three months of 2014, high profile attacks occurred in Kabul city. The types of attacks tend to be complex suicide assaults. As a result, Afghanistan, particularly its big cities, is becoming less safe.

Increase in violence

One reason behind this increase in violence is the government’s delay in appointing ministers. Specifically, the high ranking people who are currently in charge of the security situation and other responsible security agencies do not take their tasks seriously. They do not feel responsible because they are only interim superintendents and they know they will eventually leave their posts. The introduction of the cabinet to the House of Representatives has been delayed for unknown reasons. At the same time, the government complains about a lack of cash in its deposit accounts coupled with reduced internal revenue sources and a lack of interest among donors in funding the Afghan national budget. These challenges coincided with the ending of the international security forces combat mission in Afghanistan. There is a high probability riots if the national unity government cannot convince its parties to introduce new ministers.

In general, the security situation and events in Kabul, Herat and Mazar frequently disturb the normal life of people, and these events also have a negative effect on Medica Afghanistan. For instance due to security concerns, most of the Medica Afghanistan literacy participants could not regularly attend classes; therefore, MA has to stop the literacy lessons temporarily in such situations.

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Top-Thema

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. This is the summary of the research.
Full Title: "We are still alive. We have been harmed but we are brave and strong.” Second revised edition. (November 2014).
© Medica Zenica & medica mondiale

About the research:

While preparing the research, the two organizations formulated four main areas of interest:

  • How has the war-related sexual violence and rape impacted on the lives of the survivors and their psychological well-being, health, relationships, and on family systems?
  • How does Bosnian society treat survivors of war-related sexual violence and rape nowadays? How are they integrated into their society from the legal, social, health and psychosocial point of view?
  • What has helped survivors to get on with their lives after war rape? What has given them the strength to continue their lives? What are their coping mechanisms, and how did they evolve in the two decades after their traumatising experiences?
  • What did Medica Zenica’s work mean for the survivors in their coping process? What were the most important “ingredients” in the help they received that actually made the difference for the women and supported them the most?

Researchers:
Sabiha Husi?, M.Sc., Irma Šiljak, Emina Osmanovi?, Ferida ?eki?, Lejla Heremi?

Consultants:
Dr. Simone Lindorfer, Dr. Elvira Durakovi?-Belko, Andreja Dugandži?, Nejra ?engi?

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

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