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For Immediate Release

International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict Launches

PHR collaborates with international groups to stop rape in conflict

Cambridge, Mass. - 05/06/2012

Today PHR, Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels announced the launch of The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict.

A powerful and coordinated effort for change, the Campaign was formed in response to the prevalence of systematic rape in conflict. PHR and other campaign members are concerned with the continuing lack of support for survivors of gender violence and the culture of impunity that allows perpetrators of rape to go unpunished.

“We believe that this campaign is a natural extension of PHR’s ongoing work to stop rape in conflict zones,” said Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director of PHR. “The collaborative model of this campaign largely echoes PHR’s efforts in East and Central Africa to connect members of the health care, law enforcement, and legal communities through training workshops.  By forging coalitions among these and women’s groups, PHR hopes to dramatically increase the documentation and prosecution of sexual violence and press for support to survivors. Our experience as a founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines has convinced PHR of the power of a global movement to make concrete global change that prevents mass violence and saves lives.” 

A Week of Action will be held May 6-13, with events scheduled around the world and online to mobilize support for the Campaign.

The Campaign launches as recent news highlights important steps to stem the global epidemic of rape in conflict. In April 2012 former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual slavery in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The landmark ruling makes Taylor the first head of state to be convicted by an international court including for crimes of sexual violence.

“PHR’s scientific investigations were powerful tools in supporting the Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in developing its case against Taylor. Our expertise in documenting war crimes, providing forensic training, and medical expertise is also what makes PHR a unique contributor to the Campaign. We look forward to working with all of the distinguished members to help finally put a stop to rape in conflict,” said Sirkin.  

The Campaign launches with four target countries where immediate attention is needed: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Burma, and Colombia.

Learn more about PHR’s work to stop sexual violence.

A virtual component to the Campaign will unite supporters online at

All are encouraged to take the pledge in support of the Campaign. During the Week of Action, all are also urged to make a personal pledge and share an action they will take within their own community for the Campaign.


Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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