Rape is “Normal”

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Kalo Sokoto is a Counseling Supervisor with CVT’s healing initiative in Nairobi, Kenya.

I have an experience which, even after months, I cannot seem to shed from my memory.

Kalo Sokoto

Kalo Sokoto

As a counseling supervisor with the Center for Victims of Torture in Nairobi, part of my job is to train staff at organizations that work with refugee survivors of torture and violent conflict. During one of these trainings, an expatriate female resettlement officer asked us if we could speak more on rape. She said that most refugee women who have been survivors of rape and later get resettled did not show the need for counseling and that perhaps this was because rape had become so normal to them that they are okay moving on with life.

I’ll get straight to the point. Rape is not normal. It can never be normal. Rape is in fact abnormal in every nature of the word. Continue reading

UNHCR Seeks End to Detention of Asylum Seekers, Refugees

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently announced a new five-year global strategy, Beyond Detention, to assist countries to move away from the detention of asylum seekers, refugees, and stateless people worldwide. According to UNHCR, the practice of detaining asylum seekers and refugees has become routine in several countries.

Seeking asylum is lawful and the exercise of a fundamental human right. The detention of asylum-seekers as a routine response should be avoided – these are people who need protection.

UNHCR Director of International Protection Volker Türk

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CVT Joins Other Experts for USAID Victims of Torture Meeting

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Veronica Laveta, CVT International Services Clinical Advisor, and Jennifer Esala, Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, recently traveled to Washington, DC for a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Victims of Torture meeting organized by Johns Hopkins UniversityUSAID’s Victims of Torture Program works primarily with nongovernmental organizations overseas to assist the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals, families, and community members who suffer from the physical and psychological effects of torture and trauma.

Participants at the meeting included researchers, practitioners, donors, and UN and International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims representatives. The meeting was designed to give feedback to USAID about recommended services and methods, identify gaps in the research, and recommend strategies for advocating for sustainable mental health services in low resource contexts. Veronica and Jennifer presented on CVT’s model of group counseling and the practice-based evidence CVT has gathered over the past 15 years working internationally. Here, Veronica shares some insights and observations from the meeting. Continue reading

Honoring Survivors on June 26

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On 26 June 2014, CVT staff, volunteers and board members gathered in the St. Paul Healing Center with survivors of torture to commemorate the anniversary of the Convention Against Torture. Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, Ph.D., L.P., Senior Consulting Clinician, offered these remarks to honor all survivors.

Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, PhD

Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, PhD

We are honored to observe the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture at our St. Paul Healing Center, where a community of providers, interpreters, and volunteers help heal and support survivors in rebuilding their lives.

Our unified stand goes well beyond those who are currently present with us today. Indeed, countless many others stand to honor torture survivors today, all around the world, as we also stand here to honor you. Continue reading

51.2 Million People were Forcibly Displaced Worldwide in 2013

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On June 20 – World Refugee Day – the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released its annual Global Trends report on the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This year’s report finds that an astonishing 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013 – six million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012. According to UNHCR, the 2013 number marks the first time in the post-World War II era that global forced displacement exceeded 50 million people.

UNHCR

UNHCR

If these 51.2 million persons were a nation, they would make up the 26th largest in the world.

UNHCR

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