GFDD and FUNGLODE Partner with British Embassy for a successful conference focused on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict

June 11, 2014

On June 10, the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), held a conference in partnership with the British Embassy, and with the support of the Ministry of Women in Dominican Republic and the United Nations Dominican Association, on the topic of Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The event took place at FUNGLODE’s headquarters in Santo Domingo, Dominican

The Dominican Republic, together with 121 other countries endorsed the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict on October 2, 2013. Looking to extend this effort further, the UK Foreign Secretary, The Honourable William Hague, and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are co-chairing the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, in London from June 10-13,

In support of this summit, this conference in Santo Domingo aimed to strengthen the international community’s work in this area, by convening a variety of panel
speakers including grassroots organizations, representatives of national government and local personalities. The speakers included, among others: H.E. Ambassador Steven Fisher, British Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Ms. Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, a member of the Board of MADRE (an international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women’s organizations worldwide), Ms. Folade Mutota, the Executive Director
of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (which serves as the secretariat for the Caribbean Coalition for Development and Reduction of Armed Violence), Mr. Robert Kayinamura, the First Counsellor at the Mission of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations and Roxanna Reyes, Deputy Attorney General for Women’s Affairs in the Dominican Republic.

Ms. Yamile Eusebio, Director of GFDD New York Office and Program Director of Training
Activities at FUNGLODE welcomed the participants and the audience, thanking the partner organizations for helping to host the conference and in particular H.E. Ambassador Steven Fisher, British Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and Haiti and Mr. Emil Chireno, the Executive Director of United Nations Dominican Association.

Following opening remarks from Ambassador Fisher, Ms. Mutota, the Executive Director of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development,
commented on sexual violence statistics in the Caribbean region. She stated that in Jamaica for the first ten months of 2005, 16% of rapes were carried out at gunpoint. She confirmed that reprisal crime, including sexual violence, is a growing phenomenon in the country. Turning to the situation in Haiti, she stated that there were more than 250 cases of rape in several camps during the first 150 days after January 2011’s earthquake. She explained that such attacks usually take
place at night, with the women being threatened and forcibly taken to a secluded spot by groups of armed men. Finally, looking at the issues in the Dominican Republic, Ms. Mutota confirmed that 42% of the women victim of domestic violence in the Dominican Republic, have been threatened with a gun. In response to these alarming statistics she reiterated a strong called for background checks before licensing firearms, as well as more effective fire arming storing processes, and stringent
legislation and policies.

Ms. Bannan next stressed that the main causes of sexual violence against women in refugee camps in Haiti were linked to lack of street lighting, insufficient security and lack of community participation.

Mr. Kayinamura, the First Counsellor at the Mission of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations explained that sexual violence can be used as a form of reprisal, to create fear, or as a form of torture. He stressed that it
is often used as a method of warfare, aimed at destroying the social fabric of a country. Referring to the case of his native country Rwanda, he explained that this had been a particular issue during the 1994 Genocide committed against the Tutsis. Commending the Rwandan women for their resilient spirit and moving on from these issues, he explained that all the women of the world who are going through the same issues should take stock of their character. From a policy standpoint he explained
that Rwanda had established a victim’s response center that brings together relevant government agencies, community leaders and civil society, to provide integrated support for victims. Concluding his remarks, Mr. Kayinamura stressed the importance of education as a tool for avoiding stigmatization, rejection and the exclusion of victims and their children.

Finally, Ms. Reyes provided further comment about the issue of sexual violence in the Dominican Republic
and provided insight on measure implemented by the Public Ministry. She stressed that the Ministry officials are working not just to make sure that the guilty ones pay for what they have done, but that they are also working closely with the victims to provide with psychological treatment and the proper health care. Despite not having conflict zones per say in the country, she stressed that the country does have a high rate of gender based violence. Concluding her statement, Ms. Reyes
pointed to a recent initiative by the national government which inaugurated a 911 Emergency number which has been an effective way for women, adolescents and children to obtain immediate assistance.

The event, which was very well received by the audience, was rounded off with a question and answer session which provided audience members with an opportunity to find out more information about the work of each speaker on the issue of preventing sexual violence.

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