The non-profit organization Stand Speak Rise Up! (SSRU) aims to denounce rape as a weapon of war, to prevent its proliferation and to support victims in their reconstruction and their need for justice.
The organization was created in September 2019 at the instigation of the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, who had organized the first International Forum on this subject in March of the same year in Luxembourg.
The association acts as a “megaphone” by giving a voice to the victims and by providing solutions.
It thus organizes regular meetings on specific themes, inviting both survivors and specialized international experts. The objective is to draw up factual observations, propose solutions and act together with international bodies in order to get things moving. A follow-up Forum will be organized by 2021, keeping as a guideline the need to put survivors at the heart of the system and to take concrete action.
The association’s programme has been developed around several main themes defined during the first
Forum in Luxembourg with survivors and specialists :
These actions help to fight against concrete human rights violations.
The Stand Speak Rise Up! initiative is a call addressed at representatives of national and international organizations and civil society to rally behind survivors, by supporting their cause and empowering them. Ending impunity for perpetrators and commanders of crimes of sexual violence in fragile environments must be an international priority!
Ever since her marriage in 1981, Her Royal Highness The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg has dedicated a large portion of her time and energy to social and humanitarian issues. She has placed women’s and children’s rights and the fight against all forms of violence against them at the heart of her humanitarian action. She has crystallised this personal commitment over time, by encouraging women to participate in building fair societies that will uphold a universal respect for human dignity and solidarity.
As a result, she was appointed UN Goodwill Ambassador in 1997 for her fight against poverty, for the education of young girls and for the promotion of microfinance. In 2007, she was appointed Eminent Advocate for Children at UNICEF. The Grand Duchess has been ceaselessly pursuing her commitment to youth and education ever since. In January 2016, she organised an international forum on learning difficulties where her son, Prince Louis, spoke about his own struggle with dyslexia.
Through the Foundation of The Grand Duke and The Grand Duchess, of which she is the president, The Grand Duchess has launched a number of initiatives to support vulnerable people both in Luxembourg and abroad. Having found herself particularly affected by the damage, isolation and stigma experienced by survivors of sexual violence in fragile environments, Her Royal Highness has decided to act on their behalf by hosting the international conference Stand Speak Rise Up!
Since its inception in 1981, the Foundation of The Grand Duke and The Grand Duchess has prioritised the social integration of vulnerable people. Under the initiative of its president, HRH the Grand Duchess, the Foundation opposes all forms of social exclusion, both within the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and abroad, by contributing to the financing of social and humanitarian projects.
The Foundation finances international development and humanitarian projects, in close collaboration with partners on the ground. In Luxembourg, the Foundation provides practical assistance to families that find themselves in positions of significant vulnerability. The Foundation also supports people who suffer from physical and mental disabilities - notably through education, work and sport - in order to facilitate their social reintegration. The Foundation is also invested in aspects of the social economy. It participated in the creation of “6zero1”, the Grand-Duchy’s first business incubator, which welcomes small business initiatives from the non-profit sector.
SEMA network retreat for 50 survivors in March 2019 in Luxembourg in collaboration with Mukwege Foundation. Subsequently, 2 survivors have applied for international protection in Luxembourg.
Collaboration on the project “Back Up” of the NGO We Are NOT Weapons of War.
Installation of solar panels on the roof of Panzi Hospital funded by the Engie Foundation in collaboration.
The Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs of Luxembourg has donated €5 million in financial aid towards the development of Panzi Hospital.
Creation of 2 evening screenings (10-11 December 2019) of films on situations of conflicts at the Luxembourg City Cinémathèque. Project initiated by the ambassadors of Belgium, Germany, France, Poland and the UK.
Exhibition on the highlights of the forum “Stand Speak Rise Up!” at the Abbey of Neumünster Cultural Exchange Center and at Cactus Bertange Commercial Center.
Charity concert with the GEMA4 quartet at Neumünster Abbey.
Emergency assistance in the Covid-19 context to survivors of the SEMA network via the Mukwege Foundation.
Support to the creation of masks by survivors at Panzi Hospital, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, in collaboration with the La Guilde du Raid and PANZI Foundation.
Support to 150 of the most vulnerable households in Gulu and Omoro, Northern Uganda: food, medical assistance and help in the production of liquid soap. Project implemented through Golden Women Vision in Uganda.
Assistance to survivors in Kabare territory, Democratic Republic of Congo. Breeding, planting of vegetables and protection material for 40 survivors over 6 months, through the Mouvement des Survivant.e.s de Viols et de Violences Sexuelles en RDC.
Distribution of gardening, protection and hygiene kits to 50 survivors in Leer County, Southern Sudan. Outreach campaign in the bush. Project via Hope Restoration South Sudan.
Independence support and income generation for 40 survivors in Mogadishu, Somalia via Somali Women and Child Care Association.
Assistance to survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina through economic empowerment: purchase of agricultural machinery. Project via Forgotten Children of War.
The association’s board of directors met for the first time on the weekend of the 16th and 17th of November to work on the projects linked to Stand Speak Rise Up!. The meeting also raised the issue of children born of wartime rape. Honorary Member Ms Pramila Patten presented the progress regarding the first plea of the United Nations on this subject.
During the meetings, the board of directors also defined the federating role of the association, led by HRH the Grand Duchess.
As well as increasing worldwide advocacy and visibility regarding the cause of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the organisation supports concrete projects, particularly concerning the topic of children born of wartime rape.
Photos - © SSRU / Kary Barthelmey / Sophie Margue