On 8th of March 2019, the Jahjaga Foundation, in cooperation with the German Embassy, the UN Women and the UN Kosovo Team organized the International Conference: “Giving voice to the survivors of sexual violence in conflict”.
The conference not only served to shine a light on some of the darkest corners of human experience and share painful truths of conflict-related sexual violence but also aimed to inspire global collaborations as everyone has a critical role to play in helping change social norms, traditions and laws that have silenced survivors.
Former President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, founder of the Jahjaga Foundation, urged everyone to “be there for the survivors and provide support during their long road of accessing justice – survivors are so much more than what happened to them.”
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, said: “it is necessary to deal with the past, including the healing of the wounds of conflict-related sexual violence, so that we’ll never experience such tragedy again.”
for accountability and assistance, guided by the principle that “Survivors should not go through these horrors again and have their fate put in question once more. They should be assisted in every possible way, in a timely manner and that empowering survivors doesn’t only help them and their families, it also does something vital for Kosovo and its neighbors: it reduces social stigma and creates space for an honest public conversation about the war, and how to deal with the past. And such a conversation must make room for the perspectives of victims from all communities.”
In a video message, Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said: “The only shame of rape is in committing, commanding or condoning it. [We call] upon public institutions and society to continue to strengthen tools to repair the dignity of survivors by increasing social protection and opportunities to partake in the society.”
Vlora Nushi, UN Women Kosovo Head of Office, read a letter by 2018 Nobel Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, which emphasized that sexual violence knows no geographic bound: “Providing reparations to survivors of sexual violence is a moral imperative that needs to be recognized globally by our collective conscience.”
The voices of survivors were heard by the audience through their anonymous testimony, thereby contributing to increasing the awareness on CRSV and ultimately to ending sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Two panel discussions followed, putting survivors and their condition at the center, and serving to stimulate public discourse on sexual violence as a weapon of conflict, which continues to impact all communities and genders in Kosovo even two decades after the end of the hostilities. The panelists, sharing their perspectives and insights into their work, included Ministers from key ministries in the provision of financial reparations for survivors of CRSV, Prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, and civil society organizations specialized in working on CRSV and with survivors.
The event concluded with the ‘Pristina Communiqué‘, read in the name of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence aiming to take the survivors’ perspective, demands and needs to the global level.