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When conflict-related sexual violence occurs, survivors urgently need reparative measures. A lack of capacity and will from States should not be obstacles

We know that for most survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), State-awarded reparation remains unmet because States are either unwilling or unable to fulfil their legal obligation to do so. Because of this, Global Survivors Fund (GSF) co-creates interim reparative measures projects with survivors and local partners.

Our reparative measures can only ever be interim in nature because the responsible authorities bear the ultimate responsibility to provide reparations to survivors. But we cannot sit by and wait for States to meet the responsibility of reparation while survivors have urgent needs.

Reparation is a right

The right to reparation is something that only the State, or other responsible parties that either failed to prevent or perpetrated the violent acts, can provide. As such, the right to reparation cannot be fulfilled by GSF. Instead, recognising that very few survivors ever receive the reparation that they are entitled to, we support the implementation of interim reparative measures through specific projects that are designed to meet the urgent needs of survivors.

These measures do not, however, constitute reparation in the legal sense as they do not involve State recognition of responsibility. Unfortunately, the timeframe for accessing State-awarded reparations is often longer than a survivor’s life expectancy, justifying the need to provide them with interim reparative measures. 

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It is crucial that everyone is aware that victims of sexual violence can no longer wait for a legal decision to have access to reparations. The consequences of sexual violence on our health, our lives, and our rights are immediate. We can’t wait.

— Angela Vasquez, Survivor of CRSV and GSF board member

Survivors of CRSV are left with a myriad of needs in the aftermath of the trauma that they experienced. Their serious medical conditions, both physical and psychological, only worsen when left untreated. Many survivors also face socio-economic exclusion due to the stigmatisation they encounter in their communities after the violence they endured becomes known.

Reparative measures are therefore intended to acknowledge the harm done to survivors and to provide rehabilitation, forms of restitution, compensation, some form of satisfaction, and collective redress. This allows survivors to rebuild their lives and avoid some of the harm associated with the lack of timely reparation. 

Co-creation with survivors and other stakeholders

A fundamental and truly distinctive component of how we conduct our work resides in making sure that all initiatives are localised for a particular context and designed and implemented in collaboration with local civil society actors, authorities, and survivors. This is what we call co-creation, and it is the beating heart of what we do.

Co-creation involves identifying problems and coming up with solutions with, rather than on behalf of, survivors. It is a set of processes that acknowledge survivors as rights-holders, placing them at the centre of conceptualising, designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating reparative measures. Through implementing projects in several regions and contexts, we have come to see how the process of co-creation itself becomes reparative.

The design of each project starts with the question: what does repair mean to survivors in this specific context? Or in other words: what is needed to bring them back as close as possible to the person they were before the violence?

Though the answer to this question varies, in most GSF projects survivors receive compensation, livelihood support, education grants, support to set up businesses, financial management training, psychological support, and access to medical care.

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