Reporting from UN Commission on Status of Women (CSW63)

The Holistic Care for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Conflict: A Session hosted by Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege

Jane Thirikwa, KAIROS partnership coordinator and Agnes Petia from National Women’s Program of the South Sudan Council of Churches continue to have an interesting and full week at the UN Commission of the Status of Women (CSW63). They recently attended a session hosted by the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation on holistic care for survivors of sexual violence in conflict, at the ongoing Commission on Status of Women (CSW63) forum in New York. Dr. Mukwege is a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, an award that recognizes his immense work in providing holistic assistance to women victims and survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The panelists in the session included survivors of wartime sexual violence from the DRC and Kosovo, as well as country representatives from France, Belgium, Senegal and Switzerland. Systemic sexual violence is often used as a weapon of war, leaving women and girls traumatized and ostracized. If and when conflicts end, women still carry the burden of re-victimization and stigma.

In his remarks via video call, Dr. Mukwege reiterated that in addition to immediate medical care, it is indispensable that victims of sexual violence receive more holistic care. Dr. Mukwege Foundation’s Panzi Hospital in the DRC, works in conjunction with civil society, including KAIROS partner Héritiers de la Justice to deliver more holistic care that incorporates four main pillars: 1) psychosocial care, 2) medical care, including access to healthcare and financial support to acquire required treatment, 3) legal support and access that allows survivors to file complaints against perpetrators and 4) reintegration into the communities.

“These mentioned needs resonate with those of women and girls in South Sudan, who have endured sexual violence through decades of conflict. The National Women’s Programme (NWP) is addressing some of the pillars mentioned by Dr. Mukwege, but we will explore collaborations with Héritiers de la Justice on how our programme can also establish the holistic care model in South Sudan,” reflected Agnes Petia after the session.

The panelists in the session reiterated that gender equality cannot be achieved without addressing the root causes of violence against women, particularly sexual violence and this includes strengthening the capacities of national and international frameworks and their implementation, including the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Perpetrators and instigators of conflict and sexual violence should also be held accountable.

The KAIROS Women of Courage: Women, Peace and Security project is supporting grassroots women organizations in Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Philippines, South Sudan, and the West Bank, in their programs of transformative psycho-social counselling, legal accompaniment and human rights training for women survivors of war and agents of peace.

Read the highlights from a reception hosted by Marc-André Blanchard, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, for Canadian and partner delegates attending the Commission on Status of Women (CSW63) forum in New York.

Filed in: Gender Justice/Women of Courage

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