Guinea: Act now to ensure increased support and assistance for victims of sexual violence

Guinea: Act now to ensure increased support and assistance for victims of sexual violence

Victims of sexual violence in Guinea face social stigma, lack of accessible medical care and serious obstacles to justice, Amnesty International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation of Africa Region (IPPFAR) said today. ) in a new report. ‘Shame must switch sides, ensure rights and justice for victims of sexual violence in Guinea‘.

Based on interviews with rape victims, administrative, judicial, traditional and religious authorities, health professionals, diplomats, representatives of civil society, the report analyzes the many obstacles to the effective care of victims. of rape, forensic examination, psychological support and access to justice in Guinea. For many survivors, justice remains inaccessible.

Victims and their families have repeatedly told us that the horrific sexual violence they have suffered is compounded by society’s judgment, but the silence is beginning to break on rape cases and civil society is poised to denounce sexual violence.

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“Despite recent efforts by the authorities to tackle the problem of sexual violence, much remains to be done in terms of information, prevention, access to care and justice to meet Guinea’s obligations under international law. and regional human rights issues.

In 2021, the Gender, Child and Moral Protection Office (Oprogem) and the Special Brigade for the Protection of Vulnerable Persons (BSPPV) – specialized units within the police and the gendarmerie – dealt with more than 400 rape cases, and most of the victims were minors, some under the age of 13. This report shows that the actual numbers of rape cases are probably higher, particularly given the practice of out-of-court settlement and the higher number of cases treated in medical centers.

Social stigma

Victims of sexual violence and their families often face intense judgment in their communities amid widespread social stigma.

The mother of a girl who said she was raped told Amnesty International of the stigma her child suffered:

“[…] When we went to the hospital, one of the doctors said, “It’s the little girl who was raped.” It hurts. Everywhere she goes, people point their fingers at her. She is still locked in the house. She does not go out; she barely communicates with people. She wants to go back to school but it is not possible.

Authorities should do more to develop awareness and education campaigns to address underlying social and cultural attitudes that discriminate against women and facilitate and perpetuate violence against them. These campaigns should promote zero tolerance for violence against women, demystify gender stereotypes and harmful myths associated with rape, eliminate the stigma associated with female victims of violence, and encourage victims to seek redress.

Urgent need to improve access to care, sexual and reproductive rights and psychological support

Guinea does not have an effective toll-free number for victims to report sexual violence and receive medical and legal advice. And despite certain initiatives such as the creation of one-stop shops offering care and legal support, the availability, quality and accessibility of the health system must be strengthened for victims, who are often of modest financial means. Many survivors are unable to access effective medical and psychological care or realize their right to sexual and reproductive health. Most medical specialists practice in the capital Conakry and the cost of treatment can sometimes prevent victims from seeking treatment.

A doctor told Amnesty International: “We can provide free consultations and reports. But if people have complications that require surgery or infectious complications that require medication, we can’t do that for free.

“The social stigma associated with rape in Guinea, which often leads to the crime not being reported or filed, leaves survivors of these atrocities without access to medical care and psychosocial support as well as legal aid to access to justice and redress,” said Marie -Evelyne Petrus-Barry, Regional Director of IPPFAR.

“Gender-based violence in all its forms is recognized as a violation of human rights by the international human rights framework and jurisprudence. Gender inequality, power imbalances and lack of respect for human rights are often the root causes of these heinous acts and prevent survivors from fully accessing and enjoying their sexual and reproductive health and rights. As human rights defenders, we must all take a stand and put an end to these inexcusable acts,” added Petrus-Barry.

Accessing justice is an obstacle course for victims

Despite real progress in adjusting legal frameworks in recent years and developing specialized police and gendarmerie units to respond to cases of sexual violence, access to justice in Guinea remains a difficult obstacle course for victims of violence. crimes, while the perpetrators often enjoy impunity. Customary authorities were able to press for out-of-court settlements, leading to the dropping of charges, which is against the law and the rights of survivors.

Although there is a lack of medical examiners and the presentation of a medical-legal certificate is not a legal requirement for filing a complaint, in practice it is often required. And even when this document is not required by the police or the gendarmerie, its absence becomes a major obstacle to a possible conviction in court.

Judicial investigations are often hampered by a lack of resources and training to address and investigate sexual violence, which negatively impacts victims’ pursuit of justice. In the absence of free and effective legal assistance for those who cannot afford a lawyer, only NGOs are able to provide legal support.

Similarly, the Guinean judicial system is also under-resourced. The majority of judges, most of whom are men, work in poor conditions. The report from rape survivors highlights that some of them perpetuate patriarchal stereotypes when dealing with cases of sexual violence.

Moreover, the fact that the survivors of the massacre of September 28, 2009 had to wait 13 years to finally hope for justice and reparation is a powerful symbol of impunity; while defense and security forces killed more than 150 protesters and committed sex crimes against more than 100 women at a stadium in Conakry that day.

To strengthen their response to sexual violence, the Guinean authorities must urgently adopt a comprehensive law on gender-based violence, among other recommendations highlighted in the report to strengthen the capacity of the judiciary, the police and other law enforcement authorities, and health and social workers. , in order to ensure the full implementation of legal provisions aimed at combating violence against women.

Guinean authorities promised they would fight against gender-based violence and rape. We urge them to take concrete steps to strengthen state efforts to prevent sexual violence and ensure care and justice for victims,”

Samira Daoud

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