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Project ID:00115195Description:UNA061 Cox's Bazar CRSV Suppor
UN Action Agst Sexual Violence
Start Date *: 15 Mar 2019
UN Action Against Sexual Viole
End Date*: 31 Dec 2019
Country: United Nations Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple

UNA061 Strengthening Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) Support Services and Mitigation in Cox’s Bazar


Summary of the current situation:

Global awareness of conflict-related sexual violence perpetrated against the Rohingya population was brought to the forefront of the world’s attention in 2017 with the mass exodus of over 700,000 Rohingya civilians from Rakhine state in Myanmar, to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The assaults were allegedly perpetrated by members of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), at times acting in concert with members of local militias, in the course of the military “clearance” operations in October 2016 and August 2017 characterized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as “ethnic cleansing”.

Established in March 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission dispatched in Myanmar to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, found that crimes against humanity have been committed, including rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence. The scale, brutality and systematic nature of these violations indicate that rape and sexual violence are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorise or punish a civilian population, and are used as a tactic of war.[1]

CRSV has been perpetrated on a massive scale. Sometimes up to 40 women and girls were raped or gang raped together. Rapes were often in public spaces and in front of families and the community, maximising humiliation and trauma. Mothers were gang raped in front of young children, who were severely injured and in some instances killed. Women and girls 13 to 25 years of age were targeted, including pregnant women.  Survivors display signs of deep trauma and face immense stigma in their community. There are credible reports of men and boys also being subjected to rape, genital mutilation and sexualised torture[2]. Both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly have expressed concern and distress at allegations of widespread conflict-related sexual violence against Rohingya in Myanmar[3].

SRSG Visit and link to Framework of Cooperation

In November 2017, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SRSG – SVC), visited camps and settlements in Cox’s Bazar, where she heard accounts from almost every Rohingya woman and girl she spoke to, of patterns of rape, gang rape, forced nudity and abduction for the purpose of sexual slavery during military campaigns of slaughter, looting and the razing of homes and villages. The SRSG-SVC also received first-hand testimonies of women having been subjected to invasive body searches, including vaginal searches, performed by male security officers, ostensibly to look for valuables and documentation, and of sexual harassment during house-to-house searches[4]. Following a second visit to Bangladesh in 2018, the SRSG-SVC has subsequently signed in November 2018, on behalf of the United Nations, a Framework of Cooperation (FoC) with the Government of Bangladesh to collectively address CRSV that has affected members of the Rohingya population displaced from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

This project will contribute to the Framework of Cooperation on addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against the displaced Rohingya population from Myanmar hosted in Bangladesh in particular to the following pillars:

  • Improving access of Rohingya survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to comprehensive services including medical and mental health services as well as psychosocial support;
  • Engaging with religious and community leaders to combat stigma against Rohingya survivors of sexual violence and their children who may be born of rape;
  • Engaging with civil society organisations, including woman and youth-led community organisations, to raise awareness about the availability of services for survivors and their rights.

In anticipation of discussions that will begin in early 2019 towards developing an Action Plan to support the implementation of the FoC, this project seeks to already advance progress towards the realization of the abovementioned pillars and demonstrate coordinated efforts to address CRSV amongst the displaced Rohingya population.

Aim of the Project

The project aims to address the gaps and challenges outlined above and act as a catalyst for mitigation and prevention of CRSV/GBV related risks by scaling up and strengthening access to quality services, increasing the resilience of survivors, strengthening community based CRSV/GBV prevention, and working towards systemic changes to address the root causes of CRSV/GBV and ensure a survivor-centred approach. Funding proposed under this project is aimed at progressing interventions to date and moving towards an integrated approach that ensures the full spectrum of causes, drivers, and impacts of CRSV/GBV are addressed beyond the limitations of humanitarian financing to date. Each intervention set out below is inter-linked to ensure that CRSV related risks and GBV more broadly are addressed through multi-sector interventions. This will allow for holistic integration of GBV risk mitigation and prevention, thereby embedding an immediate and longer-term view to ensure protection-sensitive sector responses. Funding from UN Action is a critical stepping stone to ensure this longer-term approach and breaking out of an existing silo to GBV mitigation by focusing on resilience of persons at risk, identification of capacities and resources to self-protect, and ensuring the longer term social, economic and cultural shifts required to reduce and eventually move towards prevention of CRSV risks. The joint intervention by UNFPA and IOM, two of the largest GBV service providers in the area, also enables conjoined advocacy and engagement with duty bearers to allow these shifts. The funding also directly contributes to expansion of services and dedicated specialists on CRSV, GBV and MHPSS, through which women empowerment and community engagement can be bolstered in the response.

[1] Human Rights Council (2018), Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, p.15

[2] Human Rights Council (2018), Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, p.8-9

[3] In its resolution the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/RES/S-27/1) of 5 December 2017, expressed grave concern at consistent allegations of widespread sexual violence, including rape and gang rape. In January 2018, the General Assembly (A/RES/72/248) expressed its deep distress about the excessive and unlawful use of force in Myanmar, including sexual violence

[4] Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (2018), Report of the Secretary-General on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, p.25

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