United Nations Passes 'Historic' Resolution Recognizing Survivors of Sexual Violence

Home  »  Sex Crimes   »   ‘We Changed the World’ Survivor-Led Movement Secures United Nations’ Resolution

‘We Changed the World’ Survivor-Led Movement Secures United Nations’ Resolution

‘We Changed the World’ Survivor-Led Movement Secures United Nations’ Resolution

Sep 7, 2022

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously voted to adopt a standalone resolution aimed at combatting sexual violence and providing justice for survivors of such abuse throughout the world, according to a report from EuroNews.com.

The resolution, co-sponsored by 84 countries and led by Sierra Leone, was passed Friday. The text within the measure adopted by the General Assembly urges all nations to:

  • Recognize rape in peacetime (within the framework of national and international law)
  • Take effective measures in providing victims and survivors access to justice
  • Provide survivors access to reparations and assistance
  • Condemn all forms of sexual and gender-based violence

The ‘International cooperation for access to justice, remedies and assistance for survivors of sexual violence’ resolution was adopted by consensus without any modifications. The adoption of the resolution, however, came following votes being held on four amendments attempting to “water down” its language, according to a report from Women’s Agenda.

The most contentious issues to be debated were “reproductive rights, reparations, recognizing international discrimination, and recounting domestic violence,” according to Women’s Agenda.

Ultimately, all four of the amendments were defeated by a more than 2-1 margin, allowing the “historic” measures to be adopted by the United Nations (U.N.).

The resolution’s adoption was welcomed by applause and cries of joy from individuals in the audience. One of those individuals was Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO of Rise, a non-profit organization fighting on behalf of sexual violence survivors worldwide to increase visibility and provide access to justice. Nguyen spearheaded a survivor-led movement to achieve the first of its kind worldwide bill of rights aimed at curbing sexual violence.

“What we’re asking people is not only to understand that the stigma of rape is something that should be abolished but also to look themselves in the mirror and ask: what have you done about it?” Nguyen said, according to EuroNews.

As a rape survivor, Nguyen worked for over six years to ensure the resolution was adopted by the U.N.’s General Assembly.

WE CHANGED THE WORLD!!! UNANIMOUS UN #SurvivorsResolution adoption!!!! Thank you UN for affirming to all sexual assault survivors around the world that you see us, our rapes matter, we will not be left behind,” she tweeted on September 3 after the resolution was passed.

Nguyen also described the long-fought mission to achieve the resolution’s adoption via Instagram:

“Over the past 6 years, we were told over and over again that rape survivors in peacetime has no place on the world state. That a UN resolution was not possible. That our rights, rapes and stories should be swept under the rug,” she wrote.

“Silence is how rights die. That was the purpose of this resolution. To make each country step up and reckon with the issue. Demand that the world’s most powerful must speak about our rapes instead of sweeping it under the rug. Demand that governments must give access to justice for survivors.”

“After decades of victim blaming, institutional denial, silencing taboo, turning away at honour killing of rape survivors, each government was forced to have an on-the-record point of view about this resolution. In the end 84 countries around the world cosponsored this landmark UN resolution. That’s nearly half the world. Many piled on last minute when they knew it was the right thing to do. In the end it was adopted unanimously by the world,” Nguyen added.

To highlight “victim-blaming,” Rise partnered with the U.N.’s Spotlight Initiative to stage an exhibition at the organization’s headquarters in New York City entitled ‘What Were You Wearing?’ The exhibition emphasizes “that a victim’s clothing should have no bearing in rape investigations,” according to EuroNews.

I wanted to be an astronaut, I didn’t want to be an activist, but here I am,” Nguyen said to EuroNews. “And the clothes I wore when I was raped are on display here.”

Pants, shorts, dresses, and even a little girl’s swimsuit adorned 103 mannequins displayed in the hall of the U.N. headquarters from mid-July until last week, EuroNews confirmed.

Ambassador Jakub Kulhanek of the Czech Republic represented the European Union at the initiative. Kulhanek “hailed the determination” of survivor organizations working to help bring about the resolution, EuroNews reported.

Beyond trauma, survivors too often face unacceptable barriers to accessing assistance, justice and reparation,” the ambassador added.

The U.S. delegate reportedly echoed the sentiment of Kulhanek.

“We know that we must do more to eliminate sexual violence in the world, [but] this landmark resolution brings us closer to this objective,” American representative Jeffrey DeLaurentis told EuroNews.

What is Rise (RiseNow.us)?

Founded by Nguyen, Rise is an organization fighting for the rights of sexual violence survivors around the world. “We believe that justice should not depend on geography,” the Rise website states.

Rise has a track record of implementing the most successful legislative reform movement in U.S. history. Some of the organization’s achievements include:

  • 40+ laws passed
  • 93,000,000+ people positively impacted by those laws
  • 200+ organizers trained in communities around the world

Advocates seeking to pass laws, such as the Adult Survivor’s Act in New York, may contact Rise directly for assistance with drafting legislation, framing bills, and learning how to implement successful campaigns on behalf of sexual violence survivors.

Worldwide Sexual Violence Information

The United Nations describes sexual violence as a “universal issue that demands greater international recognition.”

Citing statistics provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.N. confirms:

  • 35% of women globally (more than one-third of the world’s population) have survived sexual violence.
  • That percentage is equivalent to the combined populations of North America and Europe.
  • Rape is a worldwide epidemic.

Accordingly, the U.N.’s partnership with Rise represents an effort to highlight victim-blaming, particularly in terms of the clothing survivors were wearing at the time an assault occurred.

“A blue dress, black tights and boots. That’s what I was wearing,” Jessica Long, a sexual violence survivor who has been campaigning for the rights of survivors for the past six years with Rise, told the U.N. “That’s what I was wearing the night I was drugged. I was raped. And I was left alone to die.”

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

During the co-launch with Rise, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed noted that “by asking the question What Were You Wearing?, this exhibition flips the narrative on victim-shaming and blaming.”

“They mirror the diversity of people who experience violence from every region of the world, including a two-year-old child… [and] demonstrate more clearly than any legal argument could, that women and girls are attacked regardless of what they are wearing,” she added.

Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is a full-service California-based firm representing survivors of sexual violence in civil claims nationwide. Founded by former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian, DLG’s experienced team of sexual assault and abuse attorneys have been fighting to secure justice on behalf of survivors for more than 25 years.

Go See Sam