Thanks to the years she has spent in the field with the victims, our President, Céline Bardet, recognized the three major challenges posed by war rape:
– Insufficient access to appropriate services: victims are often asked to travel to places where they can receive medical, psychological or legal help. But this vision is fraught with problems. Indeed, if a victim leaves her place of residence, the surrounding community might realize what happened to her. In some sensitive areas, the stigma around rape is enormous, and a victim may be rejected from her community or even face risks to her life. Sometimes these victims also live in extremely remote areas and do not have the means to travel to areas where help is available.
A chilling figure sums up this situation: one in three victims attempts suicide within 72 hours of being raped because of lack of access to health care. The approach should therefore be changed: victims should not be asked to go to health care and legal services, but services should be provided for them. This is one of the objectives of the Back Up, which aims to provide a rapid and adapted response to victims.
– The lack of coordination of professionals involved: war rape is a cross-cutting issue in several fields and requires the intervention of various professionals, from the medical, psychological, legal and social sectors. Unfortunately, there are often few bridges between these sectors. In Libya, for example, we are in contact with several doctors who have treated victims of war rape, but who do not know where and how to guide their patients towards legal answers. On the other hand, we know several lawyers and prosecutors who want to prosecute the perpetrators, but who need medical professionals to prove that rape has been committed. It is therefore necessary to create a network bringing together all these professionals, and this is indeed one of the aims of the Back Up.
– Lack of reliable data on the extent of sexual violence in conflict: at present, there are no fully verified figures or data on this phenomenon. Information is difficult to find because it is very difficult for victims to report it, and because it is a very sensitive subject. To answer this question credibly, reliable figures are needed. Here again, the Back Up tool is designed to overcome this obstacle.