Dear alumni and friends
Why are women raped, tortured, kidnapped, sold into sexual slavery, humiliated and shamed during conflict?
Why is gender-based and sexual violence so often a part of armed conflict? In Bosnia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, why do women – and men – suffer such brutal attacks? Why are soldiers, armed militia, rebels and even civilians able to rape with impunity?
At LSE’s recently established Centre for Women, Peace and Security, we have every intention of asking these and other related difficult questions and seeking evidence that assists in finding answers to them. We will ask them and seek responses with all the weight and influence of this world-leading institution – your LSE.
This Centre is the first of its kind in Europe. Now, we are seeking your help to answer the unfathomable.
But women are not just victims. With your help, we will find ways of ensuring women are at the heart of the solution, and we will draw on survivors’ strength and experiences to effect social transformation. We will bring together students, scholars, activists, field workers, policy and law makers, governments and NGOs to seek solutions in local and international law and policy.
We will work to make women’s equality a reality in communities all over the world, because only then will we have a chance of ending this terrible violence against women.
I can tell you that the transcripts of trials from former Yugoslavia make for shocking reading. They tell the horrific stories of women being detained in schools and gyms. They were kept in very basic conditions and forced to perform household tasks naked, before being selected for rape. These crimes were carried out with the purpose of causing extreme terror, humiliation, debasement and denial of human dignity. Why?
In Sierra Leone, women were rounded up and forced to become ‘bush wives’. Many were stabbed or mutilated with acid. Why?
Recently, I read a story from Kosovo, where an army came into a village and shot the men. They entered the home of a woman and her mentally and physically disabled daughter. They tied the woman to a tree and blindfolded her. She could hear her daughter being raped. When the woman was released, she found they had cut her daughter’s throat. Why?
I believe it doesn’t have to be this way. You can help us pose some of the most complex and challenging questions, and put women at the heart of our efforts to seek solutions. Girls and women need equality in every society, and you can help us find ways to achieve that.
Your financial support today is support for our ultimate goal – to combat impunity for the sexual violence that destroys lives and communities, threatens sustainable peace and development, and destabilises society. Will you help by sending a gift to support the LSE Annual Fund?
As you know, LSE was founded in 1895 for the betterment of society. The Centre for Women, Peace and Security is just one incredible example of how we are holding true to that ideal today.
Having been a member of the Human Rights Advisory Panel of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, and Scientific Advisor to the drafting committee of the Istanbul Convention, I guarantee that our research and teaching is both relevant and global, and will help to better society for us all.
If you and all our alumni make a gift, together we could make our world safer for women and children by:
• Developing research and practice in issues relating to sexual violence in armed conflict and conflict-affected settings
• Bringing together world-class scholars at LSE to advance thinking in this area, and influence global policy-making
• Building partnerships with those working on issues of women, peace and security and gender-based violence in armed conflict, such as UN bodies and agencies, regional bodies, government agencies, military personnel and civil society, including from within conflict-affected areas
• Consolidating and improving academic and international knowledge on women, peace and security issues.
Ultimately, your gift to the Annual Fund today will help further our mission at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security: to produce the highest quality research, to contribute to the School’s excellent teaching programmes and – in the best traditions of the School – to apply social science knowledge to tackling real-world problems through public and political engagement.
With your support, together we will work to understand the causes and find ways to make our world safer for women and girls.
So please, help the Annual Fund to support areas of the School that matter to you. Help us to understand the causes of things. Help us to shape society for the better.
Professor Christine Chinkin, FBA
Emerita Professor of International Law and
Director, Centre for Women, Peace and Security at LSE.
Christine Chinkin is a barrister, a member of Matrix Chambers. Together with H. Charlesworth, she won the American Society of International Law, 2005 Goler T. Butcher Medal ‘for outstanding contributions to the development or effective realisation of international human rights law’. She was Scientific Advisor to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the drafting of the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, a member of the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Panel and specialist advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Centre for Women, Peace and Security appeal leaflet