Fighting Stigma Through Film – Acknowledging and addressing sexual violence in conflict

A blog by Catherine Dunmore, Advocacy Manager

“From 23 to 24 November 2018, the United Kingdom government took its Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative to the big screen at the British Film Institute, London. The Fighting Stigma Through Film festival saw screenings documenting individual and group experiences with sexual violence in conflict, as well as discussion workshops on collective steps to tackle these abuses.

Photo: Conflict-related sexual violence art installations

The event was supported by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict), Pramila Patten (Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict) and Angelina Jolie (UN Refugee Agency Special Envoy).

Over two days, thirty-eight films and documentaries were screened, sharing personal stories from around the world of sexual violence survivors and those working alongside them. These included The Uncondemned, the gripping story of a group of young international lawyers and activists who fought to end impunity by making rape a war crime, as well as the courageous Rwandan women who came forward to testify and win justice where there had been none, and Capitaine Abigail a unique testimony from a male survivor of sexual violence by a female perpetrator.

Photo: Telephones telling survivors’ stories

Experts held interactive workshops highlighting issues such as gender equality and expertise in peacekeeping, increased intimate partner violence in conflict, child early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, securing justice and accountability, tackling stigma and shifting blame from survivors to perpetrators.

The work of organisations involved in combating conflict-related sexual violence was showcased, alongside thought-provoking art installations, such as ringing telephones which when answered had survivors describing their first-hand experiences of conflict.

The PSVI Film Festival took place immediately prior to the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. These 16 Days run annually from 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day).

Photo: End sexual violence in conflict

Sexual violence as a weapon of war continues globally to destroy, destabilise and demoralise individuals, communities and societies; yet, by educating and empowering women and girls we can help improve their status, achieve justice and bring an end to the cycle of sexual violence in conflict”.

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