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23 June 2014

To bring about real changes: Global Summit to End Sexual Violence

“‘I am proud to be a survivor’ – this statement was the one which impressed me the most at the summit against sexual violence,” declared Jeannette Böhme, Advocacy and Human Rights Officer at medica mondiale. In London from June 10-13, 2014, governmental representatives from more than 120 countries came together and were joined by over 1,000 participants from civil society, politics, the legal sector and the military. It was the largest international event ever held on the subject of sexualised wartime violence.

 

"Shifting the shame and the stigma to perpetrators."

“Another highlight of the conference for me was the phrase: Shifting the shame and the stigma to perpetrators. In other words, a recognition that those committing the crimes should be the ones faced with shame and rejection, not the survivors.” According to Ms Böhme, this attitude was frequently tangible at the ExCeL London international convention centre, even (and especially) among the summit’s male participants.

As an organisation, medica mondiale was also represented at the Global Summit, presenting its trauma-sensitive approach. In front of an audience numbering about 100, the organisation’s founder, Monika Hauser, was joined by Karin Griese, head of the Trauma Work department at medica mondiale, Sabiha Husic, Director of Medica Zenica, Fehmije Luzha, psychosocial counsellor at Medica Gjakova, and Veprore Shehu, Director of Medica Kosova, to jointly present the insights gained during their many years of experience working for and with survivors. Additionally, Monika Hauser, Karin Griese and Jeannette Böhme took part in various expert discussions.

Nonetheless, the question remains: What can a summit such as this really achieve?

One important result was: Survivors made their voice heard. They demonstrated their power and their expertise. And in this way they changed public awareness. Furthermore: There was a high degree of respect in the way the participants interacted, especially regarding the politicians’ appreciation of the work and expertise of the NGOs. Even the military representatives were clearly willing to tackle the issue of sexualised violence and reflect on their own actions. This event set signals, strengthened people’s resolve, and paid tribute to their work.