July 1, 2023
SEMA’s June 19th activities
On the 9th International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on June 19, 2023 SEMA members have participated in many raising-awareness activities.
SEMA’s social media campaign on the Survivors’ Call to Action
Last year, SEMA issued its Call to Action demanding concrete action from States in the areas of prevention, response, justice and accountability, and reparations for survivors of CRSV. The Call to Action calls for a world where sexual violence is no longer used in conflict, where States hold each other to account, and meet their international obligations by taking concrete actions to prevent, respond to, and repair the grave harms sexual violence causes. Around June 19th, SEMA’s working groups ‘Red Line’ and ‘Advocacy & Visibility’ have worked together on a social media campaign to create awareness for the Call to Action and launched a digital petition, so that the public could sign to support the Call to Action. The campaign lasted 19 days, with a post every day on social networks: a text, audio or a video message by SEMA members, highlighting the 13 demands of the Call to Action. As result of the campaign there was traffic to the Red Line Initiative website from all over the world, and almost 600 signatures for support!
SEMA member Grace Acan at the Geneva Launch of the Legal Guidebook on States Obligations for CRSV
The Red Line Initiative is established by the Dr Denis Mukwege Foundation in collaboration with SEMA, and is rooted in the belief that a red line must be firmly drawn against the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. After two years of research, writing and expert consultations, the Mukwege Foundation launched the Guidebook on State Obligations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in June 2023. This online resource provides an accessible and easy-to-use tool for survivors, state representatives, and civil society organisations, setting out states’ legal obligations on sexual violence in conflict under international law. To make sure the Guidebook reaches its intended audience, we organised two launch events: the first in Geneva, as a side event to the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council, and the second in New York – prior to the United Nations Security Council‘s annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence. Both events were held around the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
SEMA member Grace Acan participated in the side event in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Council. At the event, Grace highlighted that “the Guidebook is a useful tool for survivors to remind their governments to act, repair, addressing, and ending sexual violence. The Guidebook can help governments to understand that wartime sexual violence is not a domestic issue, it threatens international security too and failure to prevent or respond to the violence means a violation of international law.”
SEMA member Leesa Gazi at the UK parliament reception in London on June 19
On behalf of the SEMA Network, SEMA Member Leesa Gazi attended a UK parliamentary reception in London on June 19th, 2023. She joined survivors and allies, including Katrien Coppens, Executive Director of the Mukwege Foundation, and highlighted SEMA’s Call to Action which urges States to take action, prevent CRSV and bring perpetrators to justice. “We and other actors are working to support our fight for justice, accountability and compensation. We ask you to stand by us because survivors cannot fight this fight alone. Amplify the voice of survivors by supporting this Call to Action.” Read the rest of Leesa Gazi’s speech here.
Launch of SEMA’s 2nd single ‘Solidarity’ on all streaming platforms
Ahead of June 19, Make Music Matter released the single ‘Solidarity’ by SEMA. The collaboration aims to bring survivors’ voices to the forefront and raise awareness of conflict-related sexual violence.
The second SEMA song ‘Solidarity’ was made during the SEMA Retreat 2022, where victims and survivors of wartime sexual violence had a jam session with Make Music Matter and Marie Daulne a.k.a. Zap Mama. They collaborated in the song-writing and audio-recording processes within the span of three days. Make Music Matter provided further post-production support. The Make Music Matter programme – Healing in Harmony – offers group music therapy for survivors of sexual violence and other traumas.
‘Solidarity‘ is now available to stream and download on all major digital platforms via A4A Records with global distribution through Warner Music Canada.
“The song lyrics lead us to reflect on the importance of raising our voices, as an action of solidarity among all, so that our bodies are never violated again, demanding justice, reparation, and restoration,” explains Carmen, a SEMA member and advocate for women and girls’ rights in Colombia who participated in the song writing.
Please read the press the release from Make Music Matter here.
SEMA’s participation in the CRSV exhibition at the United Nations Headquarter, New York
Portraits of SEMA members were included in the New-York exhibition ‘a Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) Survivor’s Journey’, which was presented by the United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action) Network on June 19. The exhibition features SEMA portraits taken by the documentary photographer, Rachel Corner, whose works highlight humanitarian crises across the world. These images show strong survivors who want the world to get acquainted with their stories and show their faces to break the circle of silence and stigma.
The exhibition was organised in collaboration with SEMA, the Mukwege Foundation, frontline service providers, Women’s Protection Advisers, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the Government of Japan, the Government of Norway, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, and VMLY&R.
Projection of SEMA’s social media campaign in the Pyramid of Cestius in Rome in partnership with Stop Rape Italia
Stop Rape Italia invited the Mukwege Foundation and SEMA Network to collaborate on an awareness raising campaign in Rome. On June 19, Stop Rape Italia organised a projection mapping to sensitise public about conflict-related sexual violence. Multiple images and videos were compiled from various organisations and projected on the Pyramid of Cestius in Rome. SEMA and the Mukwege Foundation took this opportunity to highlight SEMA’s Call to Action. The event was attended by about 200 people and many others have seen the images passing by.