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Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones

Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC

Lisez à propos de notre programme en français (pdf).

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.

Health professionals are crucial first responders for sexual violence survivors, yet many receive little training in the forensic collection and documentation of evidence. Additionally, police officers, lawyers, and judges need support to properly assess cases of sexual violence and effectively interact with health workers and survivors.

In 2011, PHR launched the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, a multi-year training and advocacy initiative, with the aim of forging coalitions among regional medical, law enforcement, and legal experts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Kenya. PHR’s goal is to dramatically increase local capacity for the collection of court-admissible evidence of sexual violence to support prosecutions for these crimes.

The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones draws on PHR’s extensive expertise in documenting war crimes and providing forensic training to professionals in regions of conflict where mass crimes have been committed. Specifically, the program includes a series of cross-sectoral, collaborative training workshops for members of the health care, law enforcement, and legal communities.

Featured Report: Summary of Roundtable Discussion

PHR convened a Roundtable on Reparations for Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown University on February 24, 2014. This report summarizes major points of discussion from the workshop, which was held in collaboration with Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

Program Activities

Through its training workshops, PHR’s Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones works with local experts to train doctors, nurses, and psycho-social trauma and recovery counselors in the collection of forensic evidence of sexual violence, including documenting health consequences, assuring appropriate treatment, and supporting legal assistance and advocacy.

Learn more about our program activities.

MediCapt

MediCapt is a mobile application, under development by the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at PHR, to help clinicians more effectively collect, document, and preserve forensic medical evidence of sexual violence to support the local prosecution of these crimes. This critical tool converts a standardized medical intake form for forensic documentation to a digital platform and combines it with a secure mobile camera to facilitate forensic photography.

Learn more about MediCapt.

Dr. Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, and PHR’s Partnership

Dr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC. Since he founded the hospital in 1999, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 30,000 survivors of sexual violence. For the last eight years, Dr. Mukwege has been PHR’s close colleague. More recently, we have been partnering with Dr. Mukwege and his staff at Panzi Hospital, where the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones has a local office.

Learn more about Dr. Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, and PHR's partnership.

Judicial Colloquium

PHR, in collaboration with Brandeis University and the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, convened the inaugural judicial colloquium in October 2013 aimed at bringing together military and civilian judges from the DRC with a distinguished group of jurists from international criminal courts and regional tribunals to discuss the challenges of adjudicating cases of sexual violence.

Learn more about the judicial colloquium.

Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

PHR contributed significantly to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict from June 10-13, 2014 in London with a delegation of 28 people, including doctors, lawyers, police investigators, human rights advocates, and judges from seven countries, and hosted three expert-led sessions.

Find out more about the summit and PHR's involvement.