The Women’s Rights Advancement & Protection Alternative (WRAPA), in collaboration with the Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP), a Non-Governmental Organization based in Gulu – Uganda and the Allamin Foundation’s Knifa Movement, a select member of the Women Advocacy Network (WAN) facilitated an exchange visit between survivors of conflict related Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and key justice institutions in Nigeria. This program was implemented under the auspices of the International Criminal Justice Fund and with support from TrustAfrica.
With the prevalence of sexual violence in conflict areas being a widespread problem, that leads its victims into a life of isolation, shame and stigmatization, damaged trust and severed relationships, the need to develop a responsive policy and legal frameworks, that cater for the long-term consequences of conflict related sexual violence, including motherhood/children born of the conflict related sexual violence becomes imperative.
Although, sexual violence in conflict is receiving increased media, policy and academic attention, there is need for more to be done as most of the reports and responses of the violence misses the voices of the survivors and focus only on their short-term needs such as provision of medical first-aid and psychological assistance rather than the long term needs.
The exchange visit was conducted to connect survivors of conflict related Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) for improved advocacy to achieve lasting systemic change. Specifically, it was aimed at; establishing a platform for SGBV survivors to meet and exchange ideas for community and national level victim led actions for ending and redressing, facilitating experiential sharing and learning on survivor movement building and advocacy, improving information sharing and networking between three of the ICJ Fund grantees working directly with survivors.
The workshop recorded sixteen (16) survivors of conflict from the Northern Uganda, and eight (8) Survivors from the North-East Nigeria (which were selected from the research respondents from the mapping of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in IDP Camps and select Host Communities in Borno State, North East Nigeria) share their lived experiences during conflict and in captivity, some of which were gory and heartbreaking. The experience sharing paved way for illuminating potential shared trauma, and developing better interventions and responses going forward. The selected survivors from Uganda who are Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) survivors from the conflict that occurred over 20 years ago are now leaders in their respective communities, advocating for their rights and for the rights of children born of wartime sexual violence and seeking justice and social repair. Thus, the experiential sharing was also aimed at motivating the SGBV survivors from the North-East into developing innovative solutions on the way forward in their lives.
The exchange visit workshop spanned an intense five (5) days, covering activities such as; dialogue and experience sharing activities, presentations on legislative work on Gender Sensitive Laws and Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) law, advocacy and documentation, plenary Discussions and visitations to key justice institutions such as Ministry of Justice (MoJ), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Judicial Council (NJC) and FIDA Nigeria.
On the last day of the exchange visit workshop, a press conference was held with the mass media houses. During the press briefing, the Executive Director, Allamin Foundation, Hajiya Hamsatu Allamin, spoke about the rehabilitation and reintegration of returning survivors of conflict related violence into society, while the WRAPA Senior Programme Coordinator, Anisah Ari, made a call for action to government and relevant stake holders to put in place policies that hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable and a system for the rehabilitation and reintegration of the survivors.
The Exchange Visit, was a resounding success as the goals and objectives of the activity were achieved. The interaction between the participants helped to build capacity and strengthen networks, key justice institutions made commitments concerning support in legal redress and social repair for the survivors. Also, there was a definite positive change in behaviour of the survivors from the North-East Nigeria.