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SVRI & Partner Events at GFHR Forum 2009 Havana Cuba, 16-18 November 2009, Havana, Cuba

    With funding from UNFPA funnelled through Ipas, the SVRI and Ipas participated in the annual conference of the Global Forum for Health Research, Forum 2009, 16-19th November, Havana Cuba. At this event, the SVRI hosted a marketplace stall, where we distributed our materials and shared our work with interested participants, and held a satellite meeting on sexual violence in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. We also arranged facilities for Ipas to present the findings of a study on health care services for sexual violence survivors in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala; along with an interactive presentation on a guide that can be used to assess the state of health services offered to sexual violence survivors (Ver y Atender). Details on the SVRI satellite meeting as well as the Ipas workshop are to follow:

    Satellite Meeting on Sexual Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
    Date: 16th November 2009
    Time: 1-3.30pm
    Venue: International Conference Centre Palacio de Convenciones de la Habana

    The purpose of this meeting was to explore sexual violence in the LAC region and how research can be used to strengthen services for survivors of sexual violence and reduce violence. Using findings of a desk review commissioned by the SVRI, the meeting aim was to raise awareness of the extent and consequences of sexual violence; highlight promising actions to address it and identify priorities for investigation.

    Over 30 people attended this event. Most participants were from the LAC region, many of who were based in Cuba, with other participants coming from Guatemala, Argentina, Honduras, Colombia, India and USA. Participants included researchers, service providers, decision-makers and representatives of international organizations working on issues related to violence, particularly violence against women. Participants list.

    The chair of session, Alessandra Guedes from PAHO, also representing the SVRI Coordinating Group, introduced the work of SVRI along with the key aim of the meeting. The SVRI commissioned desk review was presented by Juan Manuel Contreras from the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). After the presentation, all participants had the opportunity to discuss and debate around the topic. Key issues emerging from this discussion are summarised below.

    Priority Areas for Research
    During the discussion the following areas were identified as requiring more research:

    a. Understanding sexual violence  in different socio-cultural contexts: More research is needed that can be used to:

    • Inform advocacy campaigns, and policy and service development for victims of sexual violence, particularly those from underserved communities, such as indigenous and afro-descendants communities.
    • Develop appropriate services that take into consideration the cultural characteristics of the population.
    • Promote the need for services that embrace the diversity of languages that exist within the region.

    b. Consequences – Research that looks at the following should also be prioritised:

    • Association between sexual violence and STI-HIV/AIDS.
    • Psychological consequences of abuse, and the prevention of future aggression and promotion of resilience in children who have been abused.

    c. Primary prevention: Priority areas for research in the area of primary prevention should include:

    • Education: gender based violence and sexual education should be integrated into student curricula.
    • Work with men and boys and understanding masculinities.
    • Role of media.

    d. Justice systems: More research on the justice system should also be encouraged, particularly on:

    Understanding existing legal frameworks, their contradictions and the implications these frameworks have on justice for victims of sexual violence.
    Developing training models for service providers from the legal sectors.

    e. Forms of violence rarely documented that need further investigation: A number additional forms of violence, rarely documented, were identified as priority areas warranting further research. These included:

    • The legitimization of sexual harassment on institutional settings.
    • Incest.
    • Sexual exploitation (particularly important for Central America and the Caribbean).
    • Understanding fundamentalisms, and implications for women’s human rights.
    • Understanding the spectrum of violence during the life course since childhood.

    Innovative Interventions
    A number of innovative regional interventions were also shared during the meeting, including experiences from Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba and Argentina. Some more details on these experiences are to follow:

    Guatemala: NGO working with women survivors of the armed conflict, supported by UNFPA and other international organizations. They offer psycho-social assistance to victims, using diverse alternative techniques to assist survivors that take into consideration their clients’ cultural contexts. They use radio to reach distant communities.
    Contact: ECAP, UNAMG, UNFPA Guatemala;

    Cuba: Several experiences were shared and more detailed reports will be sent to the SVRI.
    Contact: CENESEX

    Honduras: Studies regarding identification of health services for VAW-HIV/AIDS supported by PAHO.
    Contact: UNFPA Honduras

    Argentina: Quantitative and qualitative studies that show evidence about the association between sexual violence and HIV/AIDS.
    Contact: FEIM

    Ipas Event: Getting it Right!  A practical guide to evaluating and improving health services for women victims and survivors of sexual violence.
    Date: 18th November 2009
    Time: 2-4pm
    Venue: Hotel Melía Habana

    Deborah Billings (Ipas consultant) and Yolanda Paredes-Gaitan (Ipas consultant) co-coordinated the workshop.  The objectives of the workshop were twofold. Firstly, the workshop aimed to provide participants with an overview of the Getting it Right! guide that was used for data collection in four Central American countries by Ipas.  The Guide was developed over a two-year period, based on ongoing work throughout Latin America to assess health services available to sexual violence survivors. Secondly, the participants learned of results of a 4-country assessment in public and private sector health care facilities in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, undertaken by Ipas in 2009.  The assessment is one component of a larger project funded by AECID/UNFPA in which Ipas, IPPF and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are participating. Approximately 30 participants, mainly from Cuba, attended the workshop (Participants list) (pdf format, 2282 kb).   Each participant left the workshop with a copy of Getting it Right!, which includes a CD-library of literature about sexual violence. Interest was expressed by participants in using the Guide to better understand health care service provision for victims/survivors in their own settings.  The Guide is available for download online.

    SVRI / Ipas Events in Cuba – What was the outcome?
    Overall, our involvement in Forum 2009, Havana Cuba, was exceptionally fruitful both in terms of increasing the profile of our work and sexual violence as a regional health concern, as well as strengthening partnerships and promoting research on sexual violence within the LAC region. The comments and feedback on the desk review we received at this event will be incorporated into the desk review. Participants at the meetings will form an important launching pad for further research work on sexual violence in the region. We would like to thank UNFPA, the Global Forum for Health Research and Ipas for providing us with the opportunity to undertake the desk review, host the satellite meeting and to participate in Forum 2009.

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