Gender-Based Violence in the Context of Armed Conflict

WITNESS has a long history of working on issues of gender-based violence, including work with grassroots partners in places as diverse as the Former Yugoslave Republic of Macedonia, Mexico, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
We are partnering with the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (Women’s Initiatives) and their grassroots partners in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Uganda in a campaign focused on ending gender-based violence in armed conflict and post conflict situations and increasing access to justice for survivors in countries under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Women’s Initiatives is an international women’s human rights organization advocating for gender-inclusive justice both at and through the ICC.
Examples of video advocacy campaigns envisioned by this partnership include:

  • A campaign to create and use footage of gender-based violence in the Central African Republic as evidence to be submitted to the International Criminal Court for inclusion in its investigations of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
  • A campaign to create and use footage as evidence for the prosecution in judicial proceedings against the FDLR and Mai-Mai militias, who have raped tens of thousands of women and girls in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Through this campaign, WITNESS will support Women’s Initiatives and their partners to tell the stories of women who have experienced gender-based violence and now seek to make their voices heard throughout the justice and peace processes. Video has a unique power to convey personal stories and catalyze change, and through this process, these women will emerge stronger, empowered by their collective voice to change their lives.

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In 2010, WITNESS launched a multi-year campaign on gender-based violence in the context of armed conflict and post-conflict situations.
Gender-based violence remains one of the most pervasive violations of human rights today and occurs in every conflict zone in the world. In armed conflict, gender-based violence, especially sexual violence against women and girls, is used as a weapon of war to achieve military objectives such as ethnic cleansing, spreading political terror and intimidation, and breaking down communities.
The effects of this violence are long lasting for survivors and their communities. The injustice of gender-based violence continues long after the violent act itself has been committed. Access to justice is severely limited in conflict and post-conflict situations, and women often face additional violence from authorities when reporting the crimes committed against them. While in recent years there have been an increasing number of legal protections on paper and greater international attention paid to gender-based violence in conflict, in practice the implementation of these protections lags behind, and the reality for many women in conflict situations remains unchanged.
To read more about why we selected this theme, please read this blog post.