The PSVI external Steering Board was established to advise the Foreign Secretary as the UK continues its campaign for new international action against sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. The Board is made up of representatives from several national and international organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights.
PHR’s close ally Dr. Denis Mukwege recently survived a near-fatal attack at his home in Eastern Congo in the lead-up to the extraordinary violence that has engulfed the region. Dr. Mukwege is renowned for his work treating victims of sexual violence. PHR’s Susannah Sirkin told The Lancet, “The biggest impact is Mukwege's voice and any attempt to silence his voice is harmful to past and future victims.” PHR is now calling on the Congolese government to fully investigate the attack.
Victims of sexual and gender based violence for atrocities experienced after the 2007 elections will take the government to court. Rachel Muthonga from the Physicians for Human Rights says they want reparation for the victims.
The international war tribunal set up to prosecute those responsible for the atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war is known for its first-time indictments of rape as a war crime. Sexual and gender-based violence was the most reported form of human rights abuse in Sierra Leone's conflict, and PHR found that more than half the women who encountered rebels suffered some form of sexual violence.
PHR Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin participated this week in a high-level consultation hosted by the British Government to respond to sexual violence in conflict zones. Experts from governments, UN agencies and NGOs gathered for three days to develop new ways of thinking about preventing sexual violence and providing survivors with services and access to justice. At the close of this gathering, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague delivered a powerful call to action.