I am glad I was able to be present at the panel discussion on Challenging and Preventing Hidden War Crimes. ACORD is a Pan African organization working on social justice and development in 17 African countries. The panelists for this event were Irma van Dueren, Ngone Diop, and Salina Sanou. The panelists screened, Hidden War Crimes, a brief 20 minute film on violence against women and war crimes. It was presented that there is a need for changing attitudes in society. Ms. Sanou mentioned laws are present within countries but not enforced. She then posed a question what do we say to these governments to enforce these laws? Hidden War Crimes mentioned that, “a stronger political will is needed to end violence against women and girls”.
There is a need for men and boys to start conversing and being educated on what they can do, so that their mindsets can be broadened. Ms. Van Dueren voiced that implementation is still very poor for Resolution 1325. Women’s political leadership needs to be strengthened and we need to support countries in taking national leadership. Ms. Sanou noted the importance in there being no silence about sexual violent crimes and that the perpetrators be brought to justice to reenforce their wrong doings. She also mentioned the need for gender training in security sectors and early warning systems for exposing and collecting data on sexual violence.
Ms. Diop talked about the effects violence against women has on the community, society, family, and economy. She mentioned the trilogy of understanding such as protection, prevention, and empowerment. There needs to be an understanding of violence against women to handle the social and economic issues, as well as an understanding to aid future advocacy and economic planning. An important statement from Ms. Diop was that victims are agents for change. It was also noted that NGOs and women in the community do not wait for the governments anymore that they tend to go out and do it themselves. It is important we educate women and girls in cases where they do not know or understand that they can say no, and that they do not have to internalize these issues or crimes.
The panelists also discussed ways the organization has been going about to change violence against women. They stated having a new project to introduce ideas and concepts of gender by informing and educating early on instead of later in life to help address these gender issues. They mentioned War Child’s training and interviewing methods in how they get girls to talk with each other about what has happened to them, document these occurrences, and then bring it to officials/police to voice what has happened. Implementing these steps or this method of counseling can help to get rid of the fear women and girls face and bring about change.
This panel was very interesting and enlightening for me as a woman. I would encourage fellow bloggers to screen the movie, Hidden War Crimes, and look into the organization on how they are helping women and girls in these 17 African countries overcome injustice and oppression.