Sexual violence and rape in particular are pervasive in many armed conflicts. Geneva Call has been engaging armed non-State actors and local communities on this issue, as well as on the promotion of gender equality since 2012. Two workshops took place in December, in Yemen and the Philippines.
In the Philippines, 17 representatives of different community-based organizations from Mindanao participated in a two-day workshop organized in partnership with United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UNYPHIL Women). The methodology of engaging the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on gender issues was presented and discussed. Participants were also able to share their views on how to protect from sexual violence and to promote women’s rights in the Moro context.
The MILF signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014, but the region remains highly affected by armed violence. Geneva Call’s engagement with the MILF started in 2000 with the signature of the Deed of Commitment prohibiting AP mines and talks started on gender issues in 2010.
In Yemen, Geneva Call has been engaging the Al-Houthi / Ansar Allah movement since 2008 on the landmine issue and more recently on child protection and gender issues. Last December, in collaboration with OHCHR, Geneva Call conducted a three-day training course on the role of women in the protection of civilians in armed conflict in Sanaa. 16 women representing women and human rights organizations from different regions of the country attended the training including two female representatives from Ansar Allah movement.
In a country where the number of armed groups and fighters has increased dramatically, participants pointed out the difficulty to report on cases of sexual violence. Victims are intimidated and their families prefer to avoid the publicity.
Participants drew up a list of recommendations that Geneva Call will use to build its future engagement with relevant armed non-State actors. As an example, the group recommended to improve detention conditions, as women are generally not separated from men.
Geneva Call will continue its work in Yemen in collaboration with some of the organizations present at the workshop.