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Message from the Conference Chair, Claudia Garcia-Moreno

Claudia Garcia-Moreno

It is my great honour and pleasure to officially open the second international conference of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, and to welcome you all to the beautiful city of Cape Town.

Moving the agenda forward is the theme of the SVRI Forum 2011. The SVRI Forum programme is an exciting mix of workshops, event launches, oral and poster presentations. The quality of the programme is world-class, and the spectrum of topics is very current and broad, which will no doubt help us to move the agenda forward. The presentations build on the priorities identified at the SVRI Forum 2009 and are structured around the following themes:

  • Primary prevention (including community based interventions);
  • Responding to sexual violence: Models of care; and
  • Sexual violence in conflict and crisis.

The ultimate goal of any work in this field must be to end sexual violence. The exciting presentations on prevention will assist us to further translate our understandings of the profound human and social costs of sexual violence into prevention at all levels, including the development of interventions that help us to end it, to services that respond to the needs of survivors.

The SVRI, with support from the Oak Foundation, has commissioned four global desk reviews and a series of meetings and workshops to identify best practices in prevention policy, programmes and interventions. You will hear more about this work during Tuesday afternoon’s plenary. Taking stock of what works and what doesn’t and what a comprehensive response to stop sexual violence should look like has been an essential first phase. We have learnt that prevention must start early; that we need to strengthen parenting; support high risk parents to be the best parents they can be; encourage development of quality prevention programmes in schools that support development of equitable and healthy relationships and promote research to better understand the context in which rape occurs.

Research on root causes of sexual violence is essential. Important and new knowledge on rape perpetration will be presented during the conference. Through this conference, and the cutting edge research being done globally, we hope to create a vision that it is indeed possible to develop community based multiple interventions that address the complex root causes of this violence. We recognise that research cannot stand alone and vice versa, so we welcome our partners working on community-lead efforts to the Forum. It is critical that we work together and support each other in making a real difference in the field.

Research on sexual violence in conflict also has a special focus at the Forum. We are greatly honoured to have the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sexual Violence in Conflict and Chair on UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms Margot Wallström, deliver a pre-recorded message. We are also delighted to have Michele Moloney Kitts, the Managing Director of Together for Girls, deliver a keynote address.

Working out how to provide mental health care and support to sexual assault survivors in resource poor settings and what that care should look like is a key challenge for us. The last day of the conference will be spent sharing work done in this area. We know that doing research on sexual violence can be challenging and traumatic for the researcher. There will be a special focus on researcher trauma lead by SVRI partners to help us develop creative ways to support us to do this incredibly important work.

The SVRI strives to promote and encourage great research on sexual violence. I am very proud to announce the launch of our first Publication Mentoring Programme for new and emerging researchers in the field. Through this programme six researchers have been funded to participate in the conference, and mentored in the development of their conference presentations. Congratulations to those of you who are part of this programme and thank you to the mentors who have lent their valuable time and expertise to this process.

On the last day of the conference we will award prizes for best oral and poster presentations within various categories. You are invited to be judges. Evaluation forms and more details on the process are available in your conference bag.  Please complete the evaluation forms and place them in the box available for this purpose at the registration desk. We hope you will enjoy judging this process with us.

Finally, I would like to thank our partners and sponsors who have helped us pull together this wonderful event, including MRC, Oak Foundation, Partners for Prevention, GBV Prevention Network, Population Council, MenEngage, WHO, UNAction, and all our other friends and networks who are using this event as a platform to meet – thank you for choosing the SVRI Forum to do this.

Together we can end sexual violence.

Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno
Conference Organizing Chair – SVRI Forum 2011
Coordinator Sexual Health, Gender, Reproductive Rights and Adolescence
Department of Reproductive Health and Research
World Health Organization