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Please Don't Forget the Protections That Survivors Need

11/06/2014 15:37 BST | Updated 11/08/2014 10:59 BST

The following is a transcript of Kolbassia Haoussou's speech to The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

My name is Kolbassia.

I am co-founder and co-ordinator of torture survivor-led activist network Survivors Speak OUT, a network of torture survivors who came to seek safety in the UK and were helped to find their voices by UK charity Freedom From Torture. Now we speak out for the rights of torture survivors.

When Survivors Speak OUT were invited to review the Protocol we were delighted be-cause it showed us that survivors are no longer being seen as 'victims' and only listened to when telling their personal testimony.

It showed us that survivors are finally being recognised as vital voices in shaping durable solutions.

Let's put everything into context, this Protocol asks survivors of sexual violence in conflict to speak out about the most unspeakable experiences. It asks us to risk re-traumatisation and our recovery process. It asks us to risk stigma, forced displacement, retaliation, arrest, punishment, and rejection, for ourselves, our families, our communities.

As survivors we have experienced horrendous ordeals at the hands of those who were supposed to protect us. This Protocol asks us to have hope and trust in justice and the

future again.

So on behalf of all survivors worldwide to you here today, experts, ministers, states officials please, while you're trying hard to make the world a better place, while you are trying to bring us justice, please don't forget the protections that survivors need to participate in this process.

That's why we hope that we have played our part in creating a Protocol that not only does not cause harm, but also makes speaking out to achieve justice the empowering experi-ence it should be for survivors. One which enables us to look in the mirror again and see the advocate, lawyer, doctor, farmer, entrepreneur, wife, husband and child that we are.

We all know that this Protocol is only a first step, but if it can give more survivors hope of achieving justice, if it can give us hope to keep moving forward to ending sexual violence in conflict, it is a significant one.

The true test of this Protocol is in how many practitioners find its guidance useful, how many survivors feel safe enough to give evidence about what has happened to them and ultimately in how many survivors it enables to access justice, how many perpetrators are successfully prosecuted.

We welcome the assurance that this is a living document.

The most important thing for us, is that what happens next involves survivors.

We hope to continue our engagement but our biggest hope is for the involvement of many more survivors around the world and the organisations that support them.

Only by survivors working together with practitioners and states can we shift the shame and stigma from survivors to perpetrators, and end sexual violence in conflict.

Thank you and God bless you.