Reparations for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

REDRESS is collaborating with the Global Survivors’ Fund in conducting a multi-country study on the needs and opportunities for reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad and Myanmar.  

The aim of the study is to assess the understanding and awareness of the right to reparation of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. With the input of a range of stakeholders, the study identifies opportunities for survivor-centric reparations for CRSV to be delivered through State or non-State programmes. It also makes recommendations regarding the needs of survivors on access to effective remedies and reparations, which can then form the basis for national and international advocacy efforts.  

REDRESS is working with Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Naripokkho in Bangladesh, Kdei Karuna in Cambodia and Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion des Droits de l’Homme (ATPDH) in Chad. 

About conflict-related sexual violence

CRSV refers to institutionalised, discriminatory violent sexual practices which are preponderantly targeted against women, although men, children and members of the LGBTIQ+ community are also affected. Such practices can adopt the form of rape, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, sexual slavery or other forms of sexual exploitation.  

During the 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh, women were systematically targeted through sexual violence: hundreds of thousands of women and girls were raped in rape camps, gang-raped while tied to trees, assaulted and tortured. 

During the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, CRSV was also widespread, particularly through the practice of forced marriage, which involved several forms of violence such as forced pregnancies. Patriarchal notions of women, their sexuality and their role in society intrinsic to Cambodian culture and social organisation perpetuate stigmas and ostracization, which have led to the everlasting situation of absence of justice for survivors. 

During Chadian President Hissène Habré’s eight-year rule, widespread sexual violence was perpetrated. Although his conviction in 2016 for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture, including sexual violence and rape by the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese court system promoted accountability, women in Chad still face serious obstacles when accessing justice, particularly cultural and societal stigmas, which hinder the process of seeking reparations.  

Demands for accountability and justice coming from the international community have also been issued in relation to the escalation of CRSV in Myanmar, in relation to the past and present conflicts, including the violence affecting the Rohingya community. The Rohingya population has been forcibly displaced from Myanmar to Bangladesh because of this violence.  

REDRESS and its partners focus on examining the CRSV situation in each of these countries, analysing the contextual barriers and opportunities there are for survivors to seek redress, access reparations and consider their perceptions on what forms survivor and victim-centric reparations should adopt.  

What are our aims? 

  • Explore viable avenues for reparations for survivors and victims contingent to each context, through detailed research which reflect the realities of CRSV in each country. 
  • Support the advocacy, legal and policy work of our local partners directed at seeking justice for CRSV survivors and victims. 
  • Increase access to reparations in the forms particular to survivors and victims’ needs. 

Who are we partnering with?

REDRESS is engaging with relevant stakeholders in civil society, experts, academics and lawyers, as well as integrating local NGO partner-led consultations and meetings with survivors and victims, and other pertinent groups. 

Preliminary findings of the Study have been released, including preliminary findings on Cambodia and Chad. They were presented by GSF in an online side event organised during the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 27 September 2021. 

Find our full report on Cambodia here.

To read more about the project, see also a blog piece written by REDRESS’s Legal Advisor Julie Bardèche and REDRESS’s Head of Law Alejandra Vicente for the Human Rights in Context blog, Left Without Calla: The Struggle of Cambodian Survivors of Conflict Related Sexual Violence to obtain Reparations, Human Rights in Context, by Julie Bardèche and Alejandra Vicente. 

 

 Photo credit: Courtesy of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. A forced marriage at the Tuol Sleng Prison during Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979).