WILPF panel at the global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Confilct

Panel discussion from the Syrian women at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict


I recently had the pleasure of attending the 1st Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. An absolutely awe inspiring experience, just by the definition of it alone.

I was attending, I am proud to say, as a WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom) member from the Leicester Branch in the UK Section. The event was as equally exhilarating as it was emotionally exhausting. WILPF increased its visibility to so many with fantastic workshops, presentations, speakers, contributions and of course the showing of the Whistleblower film and the privilege to participate in Q&A after the film, was just awesome for me. But perhaps more importantly, WILPF’s message; prevention, participation & peace, was out there on a huge scale.

I have worked with domestic abuse in its many forms, at many levels, for more than 20 years. In my current business, I travel the UK training professionals in how to identify and work with families and individuals affected by domestic abuse, effectively.

As part of my work I sit on Crown Prosecution Service Scrutiny Panels. The lack of understanding and insight legal systems and agencies have, of the tactics used, the experience of the victims and how that presents, in prosecuting cases of domestic abuse and sexual violence, is frightening. Additional to that cases are often blighted by Jury members myths and stereotypes.

1325 Mock Trial

1325 Mock Trial

To experience the 1325 Mock Trial held at the Summit was fantastic, to see it all in action and how it can be done. Fabulous to see, yet on reflection disappointing at how little of that level of legal framework is passed down to colleagues working within the domestic law arena. If the knowledge of practice in the International Criminal Court systems could be accessed and implemented more proactively, within domestic practices, then that alone would increase successful prosecutions? This would, over time begin to change public perceptions and improve practices, by definition.

There were some great speeches of solidarity from ministers about what will be done from here on in, the ethos pledged by 155 Countries + finance donated for victim care across the world. By the end of the week it really had a ‘can do’ feel about it, but then we look at the detail. The atrocities of war, by definition, war is an atrocity, until war is stopped, these atrocities will not. To achieve that, we need to educate our patriarchal global race and replace patriarchy with equality. This isn’t a gender issue, it’s a power base issue.

William Hague, Justine  Greening, & Phillip Hammond, The

William Hague, Justine Greening, & Phillip Hammond, The National Action Plan

Phillip Hammonds (MoD) speech was a joke, to suggest it be celebrated, that, included in the forces training in the UK will be specific training on SV, demonstrates to me the distinct lack of intelligence on the issue within MoD and how far we have yet to go. This issue isn’t something that can be addressed with a ‘tick box’ culture – and neither should it be. Hammonds speech may have felt more meaningful had he mentioned MoD would also be addressing the well documented and researched significant increased incidents of domestic abuse, within Force families.

I cannot stress enough the need for societies to address their individual and collective belief systems, included in that, is, the need for origins and reinforcements to also be addressed. Until we do we are in danger of overlooking the key issue on how to change; on the premise that beliefs are what motivates us as human beings, on every issue, in every day of our lives, a training video stating, ‘dont do that’ will not change beliefs.

If we take the spotlight away from individuals for a moment and look at societies view of sexual violence, this shows us a clearer picture. Although the summit did put a spotlight on the fact that sexual violence is also used against men, it has to be noted that this act isn’t seen as a victory to be celebrated by perpetrators, as it is against women. When women are perpetrated against, its a whole new ball game of vitriol, as well as to degrade and defeat. Not that one is better or worse than the other, but just to demonstrate that there is an additional layer, an acceptance in sexual violence against women and girls, that is celebrated by perpetrators in our homes and on the front lines.

There was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance in the ministers presentations, all of whom seamed to refer to these atrocities happening ‘elsewhere’, completely denying the causal links from their own countries activities. There are many small tweeks that we can all do to instigate and progress these changes globally. The time now, is for follow up, to ensure the words shared by survivors are not left in photocopied handouts and notebooks. All of us where ever we are in the world, need to hold our local and national governments to account #TimeToAct #NoMore

CWC & Leicester WILPF Member

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