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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Fighting for Justice in the wake of Gender Based Violence

Megan McLemore, JD, LLM, International Human Rights Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, 338 Spadina #12, Toronto, ON M5R 2V8, Canada, 416-924-1872, meegwie@hotmail.com

Issue: Gender-based violence in conflict situations violates not only international criminal and humanitarian law, but the national criminal laws of most states as well. This crime causes urgent public health concerns such as HIV/AIDS transmission, sometimes intentionally, mental and emotional trauma, stigmatization of survivor by the community, or loss of community altogether and creation of refugee status. Public health concerns carry legal implications and the spectrum of survivors' search for justice at the international, national and local levels will be examined.

Description: Obstacles to justice for the survivors of gender-based violence in conflict situations are 1) access to courts, 2) funding of reparations programs and 3) stigmatization within the community. A 10 week intensive program, conducted in Rwanda with Rwandan lawyers and paralegals, sought to increase access to courts for survivors by training paralegals (often survivors themselves) in skills (advocacy, research, mediation) and knowledge (international human rights law, national women's rights legislation, and criminal law procedures applicable to local gacaca tribunals.) Local customary law may have negative and positive potential as a tool for women's empowerment.

Lessons Learned: The program will evaluate whether training results in increased access to courts, if strategies were developed for increasing funding of reparations programs, and whether the training itself, and the skills gained, contribute to a process of destigmatization for survivors?

Recommendations: Improvement of programs may build capacity for obtaining justice for survivors of gender-based violence. This capacity-building model has relevance for efforts to prevent or end gender-based violence during armed conflict.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Human Rights: War, Rape and HIV in Women

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA