Sexual violence as a weapon of war, submission and terror is an ignominy that is still too often ignored and deliberately concealed. In addition to the violence of rape, which is mostly committed against women, there is also the terror, shame and, sometimes, the rejection or abandonment, in particular of children born of rape. All this is methodically planned in order to terrorise, plunder, humiliate or to force them into exile… Sexual violence is a long-lasting cluster bomb whose upsurge since the 1990s can only be worrying for the future.
For nothing lasting can be built on lies. How can we believe peace is possible if sexual violence is omitted or denied, if silence is the only option for victims?
I deeply believe that we must, on the contrary, name and shame; even, and above all, if this raw reality challenges us. I also think that we must put the victims at the heart of our actions, with our slogan as a guideline: “Nothing about us, without us”.
This was the twofold ambition of the forum Stand Speak Rise Up!: to expose the reality of these rapes and their concrete consequences thanks to the shocking testimonies of 50 survivors, whose courage and dignity impressed us. But the aim was also to overcome emotional reactions to reflect on how to prevent the multiplication of these rapes, on how to better support the victims and on how to give them justice and reparation.