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Sexual Violence – Away From Silence Towards Safety and Services

Althouafis_A4_eng-01gh 4 out of 20 women in Romania were subject to a form of sexual violence, the issue is still invisible at policy level when it comes to access to justice and services for survivors, and linked to serious impunity for perpetrators. To break away from this silence awarness is needed at all  levels, and work needs to be done from top- down – to design survivor oriented policies, as well as at community level with specialized services and prevention campaigns. With funding support of EEA Grants, under the NGO Fund in Romania,  A.L.E.G. initiated two projects on sexual violence: a project developing the first network of NGOs on this topic, (Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence) and a project developing a pilot center offering support to survivors and educational  programs ( prevention) in local communities (My Body My Own). Both projects were developed and implemneted in partnership with Stigamot from Iceland, a feminist organization with over 25 years of experience in helping survivors.

Two important events were organized throughout 20-24th of April 2015 in the framework of these projects. One event took place in Bucharest as a public seminar where Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence Network launched a Call to Action signed by 15 NGOs and targetting the decision makers at national level. For the first time, members of Parliament and of the Government shared their own stories of abuse. Women’s rights  also NGOs received the draft law for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention as a sign of active support and committment on the behalf of decision-makers.20150421_100718(1)

Working on change at community level, a second event took place in Sibiu and gathered over 40 social service providers, police officers, teachers and councillors and offered practical workshops and case study work, in order to promote cross-sector cooperation and professional conduct that avoids re-victimization.

Change needs to start from how  prevention work on sexual violence is understood and designed and A.L.E.G and Stigamot propose to shift the focus more to boys and men. The amount of guilt we cast on the survivors is equal to the amount of tollerance we have for the perpetrators and itis this that keeps us from moving forward towards elimination of violence against women.