International Women’s Day was celebrated across the globe on 8 March 2014 and with the discussion on issues concerning women still on, the ICRC is hosting a panel discussion on the theme of ‘Hidden Wounds: The Long-Lasting Consequences of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict’ today at the ICRC Humanitarium in Geneva. The discussion will shed light on the range of devastating impacts that sexual violence has on victims, their families and communities in armed conflict, and the challenges of developing an effective humanitarian response. Field and academic experts will participate in a roundtable discussion on issues such as mental health impact, transitional justice and children born of rape.
Meanwhile, our colleagues in Washington interviewed the ICRC’s leading expert on sexual violence in armed conflict, Deputy Director of Operations Pascale Meige, who agreed that the problem is far more widespread than previously thought. She was in Washington recently to brief law and policy makers on the subject, and took some time to talk to the ICRC’s Washington blog, Intercross, about the organization’s new approach to this pervasive, yet largely invisible, problem.
Meige explained that sexual violence in armed conflicts is largely not seen because people are afraid to report it and as there is a stigma attached to the problem. Therefore, where the ICRC would normally assess the nature and extent of a problem first and then formulate ways to deal with it, it has changed its approach while dealing with sexual violence in armed conflict — it has decided to start with the assumption that sexual violence is present wherever there is armed conflict.
ICRC New Delhi