Sexual Violence Program

About the program

Sexual violence occurs all over the world. It takes myriad forms – for example, sexual assault, rape, forced marriage, genital mutilation, or sexual slavery. It can happen in a bedroom, alleyway, or war zone. It can be used to assert power between a husband and wife or between rival political groups. And, though the vast majority of victims are women, men and boys can also be victims, and women can be perpetrators. Despite numerous UN resolutions and other calls to halt sexual violence in both peace and wartime, many of these crimes have remained unprosecuted. Instead, survivors are left with patchwork medical attention, attenuated social support or witness protection, and limited access to justice. 

Police motorbike in rural Liberia bears
a Rambo sticker as well as one that refers 
to UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 
which protects women’s rights.

The Human Rights Center launched the Sexual Violence Program in summer 2010 to provide a research-based understanding of how to improve accountability for, and protection from, sexual and gender-based violence in post-conflict countries and other humanitarian contexts.

The program is currently engaged in the following activities:

Accountability Research

Accountability research includes a multi-year, multi-country series of case studies that analyze cross-sectoral response to sexual and gender-based violence as both domestic and international crimes.

The study is currently focused on Africa. Current sites: Kenya, Liberia, Uganda. Potential next sites: eastern DRC, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire.

Protection Research: Safe Shelter in Forced Displacement Settings

Protection research includes an 18-month comparative study of temporary protection options for refugees, internally displaced persons, and other migrants fleeing sexual and gender-based violence.

This 4-country study was conducted at the request of the UNHCR Policy Development and Evaluation Service. Case studies include: Colombia, Haiti, Kenya, Thailand. 

Director Kim Thuy Seelinger introduces the Safe Haven reports. 

Find the four country reports, a comparative report, and summary of findings here. 

Teaching, Technical Support, and Exchanges

Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya. 

The Sexual Violence Program is engaged in teaching and student mentorship at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, as well national and international exchange to advance understanding about conflict-related sexual violence.

The program also provides ad hoc technical and research support to contacts in Africa, to promote law reform and improved accountability measures.

The Sexual Violence Program is directed by Kim Thuy Seelinger. Its Program Officer is Julie Freccero. The program was launched thanks to the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.