The UN Torture Fund assists women victims of sexual violence in Gao

On 29 April 2014, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Mali, Mr Abdoulaye Bathily, and the Representative of the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Mr Modibo Poudiougou, chaired the official ceremony "Dignity Kits for 100 Women Victims of Sexual Violence " in Gao, Northern Mali. During the ceremony, which was attended by nearly 300 persons, including UN officials and government representatives, traditional and religious leaders, as well as civil society participants, victims of torture from the 2012 violence received dignity kits containing soap and basic hygienic items.

The ceremony officially launched the project in support of victims of torture implemented by the Malian organization “Le Collectif le Cri de Coeur”, financed by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT). Thanks to the support of the MINUSMA Human Rights Division, the Board of Trustees of the UNVFVT had recommended in 2013 the payment of an emergency grant of 40,000 $ to this project of the “Le Collectif le Cri de Coeur”, including a training capacity component.

Opening the ceremony, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary (DSRSG) General, Bathily paid tribute to the people of Gao who resisted the occupation and urged the various communities in the region to live in the spirit of tolerance. The Chief of the MINUSMA Human Rights Division, for his part, recalled that "States have the primary responsibility to assist and compensate victims of torture, as recently clarified by the Committee against Torture in its General Comment No. 3. We therefore appeal to and encourage States to respect their international obligations and strengthen public institutions supporting victims, while benefitting from the experience and professionalism of NGOs"

During this ceremony, victims’ representatives expressed their appreciation for the support they are receiving and stressed the importance of psycho-social as well as medical support for their recovery. They also stated their wish to receive legal support to fight against impunity for crimes and human rights violations, of which many women were victims, as well as to receive support through income generating activities.

At the closure of the ceremony, a plaque with the words "Project supported by United Nations Funds for Victims of Torture" was unveiled by the DSRSG.

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