We are delighted that two of our leading torture survivor activists, Kolbassia Haoussou and Nadine Tunasi, have been appointed as Survivor Champions for the UK Government’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI).
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has stated that the roles aim to deliver impact and policy outcomes for PSVI, which include access to holistic care for all survivors, ending stigma and ensuring justice and greater accountability.
The newly created roles are the result of Kolbassia and Nadine’s tireless campaigning and years of work, including as members of Survivors Speak OUT, a national network of torture survivors who speak with authority on issues of torture, and life in the UK as asylum seekers and refugees who have survived trauma. It has impressed upon the government how essential it is to have survivors at the heart of the Initiative.
The Survivor Champions will support the Minister of State for the Commonwealth, UN and South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad. They will be charged with being the focal point for regional survivor networks, as well as ensuring that survivors are at the heart of policy and programming.
The PSVI was launched in 2012 and aims to raise awareness of the extent of sexual violence against women, men, girls and boys in situations of armed conflict, and rally global action to end it.
Kolbassia Haoussou, Co-founder and Co-ordinator of Survivors Speak OUT Network, said:
“It is a privilege and honour to be appointed as PSVI Survivor Champion. For years, we have been campaigning for survivors to be at the centre of decision-making. This was the model we had in mind when we founded the Survivors Speak OUT network which gave us a way to advocate for ourselves.
“This role gives me an opportunity to reach a wider audience and, working with the PSVI, promote our survivor-centred approach globally. I will do everything in my power to ensure we achieve these aims.”
Nadine Tunasi, Police and Research Lead of Survivors Speak OUT said:
“I am very honoured for this opportunity. I look forward to working with the PSVI team in constructing solutions for Survivors’ needs and ending sexual violence against women, children and men. This opportunity is the very model of Survivor empowerment.”
Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture, said:
"We are thrilled at the appointment of Kolbassia and Nadine as Survivor Champions for the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. We know that effective and impactful policy-making works best when survivors are driving it. It is a model that is vital to the work we do at Freedom from Torture.
“It is therefore heartening to see the government hear the mantra of these campaigners: “no decision about us, without us. Kolbassia and Nadine will be essential to bringing an independent and constructively critical perspective to the aims and delivery of the Initiative.”