Expert Notes on Documenting SGBV: Stigma
This is an important note featured in our newly-released section to the Video As Evidence Field Guide: Using Video to Support Justice and Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. When documenting SGBV, the importance of thorough, context-specific, and individual risk assessments, reviewed by experts in the field whenever possible, cannot be overstated. To read more about preparing to film for SGBV accountability, download the full section here.
by Virginie Ladisch, Senior Expert, International Center for Transitional Justice
A STORY OF SGBV STIGMA
In 2015, the International Center for Transitional Justice undertook research into how, without redress, the harms and violations suffered by survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Northern Uganda have continued well beyond the crimes committed.
The following is testimony from a survivor of conflict-related sexual violence and a mother of children born of that sexual violence. Her statements reflect the deep stigma that survivors of SGBV (and their families) can experience and demonstrate how the resulting harms can even transform, multiply, or amplify over time and across generations:
I have two daughters, and those children can’t marry because if a man comes to take their hands in marriage, community members send the man away by saying my daughters are children of the rebels. These children are not allowed to make any decision in the community, even in the meeting. At the borehole, even if they are the first when other people come they have to leave way and let those be the first to fetch water because if they try to resist, they tell them, ‘You don’t belong to this place, go look for your father.’
~Mother from Soroti, Uganda
The SGBV section does not provide specific guidance on how to film survivor or witness testimony relating to SGBV crimes, in part because placing victim testimony at the core of SGBV cases is risky, challenging, and even dangerous. So, this section and the checklists in Part II focus on: when and how to film all other evidence that can be used to build a case. If done well, non-testimonial evidence can minimize the need for survivor testimony and, when properly and expertly collected testimony is gathered, corroborate that testimony.
To find out how to assess when you should film for SGBV accountability, download the full section here.