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Centre of Governance & Human Rights (CGHR)


Monday 25thNovember 2019


In the frame of this year’s International Day for the Elimination ofViolence against Women and Girls (VAWG), commemorated on the 25th ofNovember, the Centre of Governance & Human Rights (CGHR) decided toraise its voice, take a stand, and join efforts with the globalmobilisations to address VAWG. This event took the form of a panel discussion, with the aim of triggering dialogue, sharing ideas and sparking a conversation on the ripples of VAWG and GBV acrosstime and spaces.

The discussion was facilitated by PhD candidate, SaideMobayed,and the panel was comprised of; Dr. Manali Desai (reader in Sociology), Dr. Tiffany Page (lecturer in sociology), Dr. Holly Porter (lecturer in gender studies) and Ilaria Michelis (PhD candidate in sociology).

To begin the evening, each panellist was invited to share an aspect of her current research or project and explain to the audience its relationship with the theme. Dr. Desai told us about the research she is currently undertaking related to gendered violence in both India and South Africa. She hopes to look at where the silences are in these societies – to uncover the hidden spaces in which violence is occurring in neighbourhoods in Delhi and Johannesburg. While this is a Cambridge-based project she emphasised the importance of being alive to questions around where this research is generated, and of working with scholars within the global south. 

Dr. Porter then briefly talked us through a paper that she had written on based on her research into sexual violence in Uganda, making reference to sexual norms and transgressions in different spaces. She spoke about the context of sexual violence in terms of temporality and the carving out moral spaces, noting that violence starts as an act – and doesn’t end when that act terminates.

Dr. Page turned to the topic of sexual violence within higher education, contemplating how our institutions respond to allegations of misconduct and the support that may or may not be offered to victims. She acknowledged the long road of temporality in this regard and considered not only the vulnerability of victims, but also the vulnerability of institutions (due to threats of litigation, fear of reputation being tarnished) and the clashing of these two weaknesses. She questioned the prioritisation of the welfare of the institution over that of its members.

Finally, Ilaria reflected on her work in the humanitarian sector in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, focusing upon violence against adolescent girls displaced through a humanitarian crisis. She noted the continuity of violence throughout these young women’s’ lives and the many intersectional issues involved. She mentioned the need for girls to have access to dedicated safe spaces.

The discussion was then opened up to the crowd as a lively question and answer session in which the conversation flowed. Some of the topics discussed by the students and panellists included how to translate our epistemic privilege with other women’s experience of violence, the extent to which silence can be seen as agency in certain circumstances, reflections on patriarchy and the importance of solidarity in the process of ethnography.  This discussion was both informative and engaging. The event was very well attended and the crowd engaged thoroughly with the panellists. 

More information about the event can be found here.