Much like their parents the children were learning how to protect themselves. The response the Daesh threat stirred up in the local men and women has been remarkable to observe. The Women Protection Units, established in 2012, reportedly had over 7,000 volunteer fighters by late 2014 and today stand by the side of YPG as a major opponent to Daesh in the region.
When people hear that I led an infantry platoon in Iraq, the automatic assumption is that my deployment was full of action. There is certainly a time and place for the skill-set of an infantryman, but medicine proved to be our most universal and powerful tool- greater than any ambush or raid. The humanitarian aspects of our patrols allowed our soldiers to express their compassionate side and create bonds with people who previously regarded us with suspicion and mistrust.
Access to individual psychological therapies in hostile scenarios is next to impossible and survivors are simultaneously faced with social stigma, often rejected by their own communities. In these situations, group therapy is proving to be an efficient tool offering much needed social support structure, helping the survivors to deal with symptoms of PTSD, increasing their self-confidence and improving social skills. The story of Prameela gives great insight into ways in which group therapy facilitates the healing process as well as encourages further personal development.
The myths about sexual violence harm mainly the survivors, pushing them further into silence and causing inappropriate channelling of resources that are meant to help them. Talking about sexual violence might not be comfortable but without talking about it we can never really understand it, and without that the path to ending it will remain closed.
Humanitarian Tracker is a forum dedicated to providing citizens with methods, tools and an online platform, offering the opportunity to tell their story to the world rather than have it told for them. Being more than an information outlet the initiative also offers training to its members creating a global base of citizen journalists able to produce accurate, unbiased and contextualised reports.
The new app developed by the International Bar Association in collaboration with the information firm LexisNexis promises to revolutionize the way we collect evidence of atrocities. The app records and embeds metadata at the point of capture which means that any footage or image recorded through the app can be verified for its authenticity including date, time and location and making sure the material has not been edited or otherwise altered.
Artistic forms of expression have the potential to rehabilitate some of those who took a part in the fighting directly as well as help the suffering civilians, namely the internally displaced population and other survivors to accept, deal with and overcome their trauma. Indeed, for many centuries, musical expression through singing and drumming has been one of the means of meditation and developing mindfulness to help reunite and heal communities in attempts to re-establish peace in extreme situations of conflict, violence and resulting displacement in different parts of south Kivu province.
The STI epidemic in Haiti is exacerbated by a number of factors locally including the poor education the population receives about safe sex and poor access to proper prevention measures and effective treatment. We can only have a temporary impact in the region by treating patients as the only way to make a lasting impact is to promote safe sex education and engage local community workers trained to recognize the signs of STIs, distribute medications, and provide counselling and relief for the victims.
For women this is a particularly difficult environment to live in. The context of poverty further exacerbates gender inequalities that still prevail in the rest of the country. Forms of male superiority embedded in social and cultural norms mean that women in Kenya are often treated as second class citizens and gender based violence is an institutionalised and culturally embedded problem.
The report concludes that domestic violence remains pervasive in Britain with 30% of women reporting to have experienced domestic abuse in the last year. This is above the European Union average of 22% and close to the widely quoted statistic of one in three women worldwide being exposed to some type of sexual violence in her lifetime.
In many regions in the world, governments have become the perpetrators of systematic sexual and physical violence targeting their own populations. This is often in parallel with campaigns to deny political rights, suppress opposition or coerce obedience from targeted population group. But the ways of addressing the problem are changing rapidly, with introduction of the modern communication technologies and innovations designed particularly with the aim of tackling sexual violence in conflict or disaster settings.
The prolonged conflict has ravaged the country on all levels beginning with individual, family, society, and environment. The resulting resentment and anger is strongest in the isolated rural regions where the ruptured communities are not only targets of ongoing violence but also susceptible to potential radicalisation of the local population. Any attempts to restore peace, hope and dignity in the DRC have to be as complex and as multi-layered as the problem itself.
It is startling that despite its persistence, the hard statistics quantifying and analysing the incidents of sexual violence on women in conflict are still scarce. There is however a growing optimism that the recent technological innovations and changes in telecommunications might be able to help change this.
Along with dozens of militia groups, the DRC Army, Rwandan Army and even UN peacekeepers stand accused of staggering sexual violence against local Congolese women. The problem of GBV have become epidemic in the region with extraordinary levels of planned sexual violence. A 2008 report conservatively estimated over 500,000 women had already been affected by sexual violence in Eastern DRC and many reports put this figure in the millions.