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Kenya experienced widespread sexual violence during the post-election period in 2007-2008, leading Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to launch the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, a multi-year training and advocacy initiative, in 2011. This program aims to forge coalitions among medical, law enforcement, and legal experts to help respond to survivors of sexual violence.

In February 2013, PHR co-filed a petition with eight survivors of sexual violence and four Kenyan civil society organizations. This constitutional challenge against the government of Kenya argues that the state must implement measures to protect civilians from widespread sexual violence and to provide survivors with adequate access to justice. Though a slow judicial process is anticipated, the case has already begun to garner the attention of national and international news outlets.

In June 2014, PHR brought a delegation of 28 people to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London, including five delegates from the legal, judicial, medical, and police sectors in Kenya.

Watch this video, debuted at the summit, to learn more about PHR’s work in Kenya.

Landmark Child Rape Case in Congo Goes to Court (November 9, 2017)

Today, in the small village of Kavumu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 18 defendants are set to go on trial for the systematic rape of 46 young children over a period of four years. The case represents a landmark step in the fight against rape in Congo, a country marked by widespread sexual violence for decades. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) – along with TRIAL International, Panzi Hospital, and a host of Congolese partners – has worked to ensure evidence as well as survivors’ testimony will come to light in an open justice proceeding

Joint Statement on Kavumu From PHR, TRIAL International, and Panzi Hospital (November 2, 2017)

In the village of Kavumu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), families once endured the unspeakable: children abducted in the night and raped. Nearly five years after the first attacks and after an international mobilization of supporters, a trial to prosecute the alleged offenders will begin on Monday, November 6. Eighteen suspects will face charges, including a local politician. The trial will be a turning point for the fight against impunity in DRC, and civil society both locally and internationally played a decisive role in bringing about this historic moment.

Unnecessary Surgery on Intersex Children Must Stop (October 20, 2017)

Physicians for Human Rights calls for an end to all medically unnecessary surgical procedures that seek to alter gonads, genitals, or internal sex organs of intersex children, or those born with atypical sex characteristics,

PHR Documents Worst String of Hospital Attacks in Syria Since April (September 27, 2017)

Over the past week, Syrian government forces or their Russian allies have launched at least five aerial attacks on three of the main hospitals in Syria’s Idlib governorate, the most concentrated string of hospital attacks Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has verified in Syria since April.

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Protecting Survivors, Ensuring Justice: Week One of the Kavumu Child Rape Trial (December 1, 2017)

Cloaked from head to toe to shield her identity, the witness was led into the makeshift court room and seated behind a screen. Out of sight of the 18 defendants, she addressed the court.

DNA Technology and the Denial of Justice for Survivors of Sexual Violence (November 29, 2017)

DNA analysis is often lauded as an invaluable tool for prosecutors. But it’s not a panacea, and our exaggerated dependence on it threatens to derail countless cases of sexual violence.

PHR Awarded 2017 Dodd Prize in Human Rights (November 28, 2017)

On November 2, 2017, Physicians for Human Rights received the 2017 Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center in Storrs, Connecticut. As part of the formal award ceremony, former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd and the Center’s leadership presented PHR Executive Director Donna McKay and board chairman Kerry Sulkowicz with the award.

“Our Work Isn’t Finished Yet” (October 9, 2017)

Twenty years ago, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced it would award the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the campaign’s coordinator, Jody Williams, for their work in securing a landmark treaty to ban antipersonnel mines globally. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), as a founding member of the Campaign, shared in the prize.

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PHR and partners appeal to Kenya to curb election-linked police rape and violence (October 2017)

PHR called on the Kenyan government to take all measures to stop police from raping and assaulting civilians as they vote in presidential elections today, and to ensure access to medical care for any survivors of violence.

Unnecessary Surgery on Intersex Children Must Stop (October 2017)

Physicians for Human Rights calls for an end to all medically unnecessary surgical procedures that seek to alter gonads, genitals, or internal sex organs of intersex children, or those born with atypical sex characteristics.

Letter to Secretary of Health Republic of the Philippines (July 2017)

PHR urges Philippines Secretary of Health to undertake a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation into claims of medical complicity, and take all measures necessary to ensure that no health staff or health systems under their authority take part in human rights abuses.

Neither Justice nor Treatment (June 2017)

Drug courts in the United States routinely fail to provide adequate, medically-sound treatment for substance use disorders, with treatment plans that are at times designed and facilitated by individuals with little to no medical training. In this report, Physicians for Human Rights shows how drug courts – designed to reduce incarceration and provide necessary treatment – struggle to meet medical and human rights standards.

More -General Research »

Featured Campaign

Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones

As efforts to support legal redress for survivors of mass rape intensify in Central and East Africa, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is working to improve the abilities of the health and legal communities to build prosecutions of sexual violence crimes, in collaboration with a number of local partners in the region. Read More »

Featured Expert

Karen Naimer

Karen Naimer, JD, LLM, MA

Karen Naimer directs PHR's Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, a training and advocacy initiative that bolsters the ability of doctors, nurses, police officers, lawyers, and judges to support survivors of sexual violence and to collect, document, and preserve forensic evidence related to these crimes. The program cultivates networks of collaboration among medical, legal, and law enforcement personnel to strengthen prosecutions of and accountability for sexual violence in East and Central Africa and elsewhere. Read More »