Mildred, a member of SEMA, speaks on stage in front of a large group of international NGO leaders at a conference in Oslo.
Distinguished guests, I’m highly honoured to be standing here in front of you together with my colleagues from SEMA to address the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
I would like to start with a question to you all today. Who is a survivor and who is a perpetrator? The survivor could be your mother, your brother, your sister or your daughter and the perpetrator could be you and me.
Normally negative politics is the root cause of violence and wars. I’m not pointing a finger at anyone but we all know politics can be a dirty game sometimes, although it seems that everyone wants to be involved in it. We might not be able to end war, but we surely can stop this barbaric, immoral and uncivilized behaviour called sexual violence.
We are the ones who incite violence by our words and actions; and we are the ones who can stop it. Do you think these survivors care whether they live or die after the horrendous incident? No; what we just know is we live. We are a people robbed of our freedom but it’s only you and me who can stop this violence from occurring and recurring
I know you have talked to survivors and listened to their plight, and what WE need is justice. Can you give us justice? This is the true healer of the wounds we carry. Yes, no amount of money or words can restore our lost dignity; but justice will surely pave the way for us to regain our dignity. We need to set laws and rules and apply them. We must introduce stiffer penalties for perpetrators and those who incite violence.
United we stand, divided we fall! The last thing we need is to live in fear for our mothers and brothers, sisters and daughters. In the beginning I asked you: who is the perpetrator? Perpetrators of sexual violence have to be brought to justice, but how can we do this when the perpetrators are those in power? Here is my clarion call- Do not ever forget that victims & survivors have a right to justice and reparations.”
SEMA is the Global Network of Victims and Survivors to End Wartime Sexual Violence facilitated by the Mukwege Foundation.