In this week’s Must Reads: COVID-19 Pandemic Cannot Distract Us From The Urgent Need To Eliminate Sexual Violence In Conflict. Giving Voice to Alaska’s Unheard Sexual Assault Survivors. Citing ‘weight of history’, senior UN officials of African descent issue call to ‘go beyond and do more’ to end racism. Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi Responds To AU Call For End To Police Brutality. ‘Like I’m in a cage’: Domestic workers trapped and abused in lockdown London. Wartime sexual violence survivors: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s forgotten ones.

  1. From the UN: “COVID-19 hampers the possibility of survivors to report sexual violence and further exacerbates the existing structural, institutional and sociocultural barriers to reporting such crimes.” Ensuring justice for the victims and survivors will empower them to move on with their lives and to build a future that is not grounded in the stigma of the atrocities they have been subjected to. Survivors must feel empowered to speak up and to speak out about the violence they have endured. (Forbes)
  2. Alaska: ProPublica talked to hundreds of survivors over the past year who have shared their stories. Alaska has among the highest rates of sexual crimes in America. A challenge had always been the willingness of victims, many of them traumatized and fearful of being shunned by their family or their community if they spoke out. They come from all walks of life. Alaskans from ages 23 to 73, men and women, urban and rural, Native and non-Native. People who turned to the criminal justice system, and more often those who didn’t. (ProPublica)
  3. Citing ‘weight of history’, senior UN officials of African descent issue call to ‘go beyond and do more’ to end racism. The opinion piece ends with quotations from renowned human rights and anti-racism activists, including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statement that “black liberation is an absolutely indispensable prerequisite to white liberation: nobody will be free until we all are free”. (United Nations)

   Following Burkina Faso’s Ambassador Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri statement on behalf of 54 African nations regarding the global outcry for an end to police brutality and systemic and structural racism perpetrated against Black peoples, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, President of the Medical Women’s International Association released a statement: “I align fully with Coordinator of the African Group on Human Rights issues and OHCHR on the call for an urgent debate to address racially inspired human rights violations. I add my voice by calling for a Declaration of Zero Tolerance on racially inspired human rights violations.” (TrendingNG)

  1. ‘Like I’m in a cage’: Domestic workers trapped and abused in lockdown London. Many employees of Gulf Arab families in the UK are being exploited, with their tied visa ensuring there is little room for relief. (Middle East Eye)
  2. Wartime sexual violence survivors: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s forgotten ones. Survivors face problems often caused by the complex and dysfunctional judicial system in BiH, which insufficiently protects the rights and dignity of victims. Behind this, there are political blockades and a lack of resources –leading to the fact that victims are not provided with full and effective access to justice, truth, and reparations. (Trial International)

Additional Reading:

  • Statement by Dr. Denis Mukwege on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict: “Today, our thoughts are with all survivors of sexual violence. To all those women and men who break the silence that their perpetrators often seek to impose on them, and who are speaking out with courage and determination to demand justice, truth, and reparations, such as the members of SEMA, the Global Network of Victims and Survivors to end wartime sexual violence.”

Mukwege also noted progress: “The last G7 summit hosted by the French Presidency emphasized gender inequality and committed itself to the fight against sexual violence in times of peace, as well as in times of conflict. This commitment made by major economic powers recognizes that a prosperous world cannot be built without respecting women’s rights and benefiting from their full inclusion and added value.”

“Security Council Resolution 2467 adopted in April 2019 recognized the need for a survivor-centric approach to address and prevent sexual violence in conflict situations. It also emphasized the need for recognition and care of children born of rape and the need to strengthen accountability mechanisms for perpetrators and instigators of violence.”

Read the full statement, via the Panzi Foundation.

  • George Floyd’s Brother To U.N. Human Rights Council: ‘I Am Asking You To Help Us: Black People in America.’ During a quickly convened session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Floyd asked the group to set up a commission of inquiry into racism and police brutality in the United States — specifically “police killings of black people and America and the violence used against peaceful protesters.” (NPR)