Global Network of Victims and Survivors to End Wartime Sexual Violence

“Nothing about us, without us”

SEMA, which means “speak out” in Swahili, gathers survivors of wartime sexual violence together. It is rooted in survivor-led, activist networks at the local and national levels, representing thousands of survivors of wartime sexual violence.  

SEMA members mobilise collectively to speak out about the realities of sexual violence in conflict and act in solidarity to bring an end to wartime sexual violence and impunity. 

What Dr Denis Mukwege says about SEMA: 

“When one survivor has the courage to break the silence and to stand up for her rights, she will inspire others to do the same. This is why it is so important to connect survivors so that they can strengthen each other’s healing and activism. The global survivor network chose the name SEMA, the Swahili word meaning ‘speak out’. The experience of being silenced and ignored was a common theme in survivors’ experiences – not only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but across the globe and through time. Breaking the silence was recognised as the first, crucial step towards reclaiming the rights denied to so many of them.

The work that these inspiring women are doing is not solely for themselves. Nor is it to seek revenge, or to point the finger of blame. Their purpose is for the world to know that survivors have rights that must be respected. It is to ensure that their daughters and granddaughters never have to go through the experiences that they have suffered.”

Read the full foreword written by Dr. Mukwege in the SEMA Book.

Dr Denis Mukwege at the SEMA 2022 Retreat

Messages from survivors

What happened to us was against our will. The perpetrator doesn't admit their wrongdoing, and by our being quiet we also keep their crimes secret. We have to speak out for the world to know.
Everything that is done for me without me is done against me.
Democratic Republic of Congo