South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Media Release

11 September 2015

Leading experts in violence prevention gather in South Africa to share innovative ideas about…
How to end gender violence

From Monday 14 September to Thursday 17 September 2015, the world’s leading experts in violence prevention are meeting for the fourth SVRI Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, to share innovative ideas about how to end gender violence - the largest conference on violence against women and girls in the Global South.

Violence against women and girls is one of the greatest social, economic and public health problems facing the world today. It has been estimated that it accounts for as much death and ill health in women aged 15-44, as cancer, and is a greater cause of ill health than malaria and traffic accidents combined. The economic cost of domestic violence alone is estimated to be $8.4bn per year in Australia, $42bn in the UK and nearly 1.4% of GDP in Vietnam. Globally,

  • 35% of women have experienced some form of violence. That’s 1.2 billion women.
  • 30% of women have experienced violence from their partner. That’s over 1 billion women.
  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70% of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.

In response, the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) was set up, a global research initiative to promote good quality research in the area of sexual violence, with a particular focus on the Global South.

The SVRI is hosted by the South African Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC) Gender and Health Research Unit. It is a self-funded, self-coordinated group that is chaired by the World Health Organisation.

The SVRI Forum 2015, brings together researchers, gender activists, funders, policy makers, service providers, practitioners and survivors from all over the world to showcase innovative practices to end sexual violence, intimate partner violence and child abuse, and strengthen responses to survivors in low and middle income countries – its ultimate purpose to understand what is working and why, with a view to scaling up those successes. The growth of the Forum over the years illustrates the increased value placed on research and evidence-informed programming – a biennial pilgrimage for those working in the field.

The Forum brings together brilliant research specialists in this field. Key speakers include:

  • Rashia Manjoo – the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
  • Shereen El Feki – writer-academic-activist on sexuality in the Arab region, searching for solutions. She says that if you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms. Author of the highly acclaimed Sex and the Citadel.
  • Noura BIttar Soborg - a Syrian refugee and social entrepreneur who has made it her mission to snuff out the type of violence of which she is all too familiar: violence against women.
  • Claudia Garcia-Moreno – SVRI Forum 2015 Chair and SVRI Co-Chair, is lead specialist Gender, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health and Adolescence at the World Health Organization, and Chair of the What Works Independent Advisory Committee.
  • Mark Tomlinson - Professor of Psychology at Stellenbosch University with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Cape Town and a PhD from the University of Reading (United Kingdom).  Is holding a session on how to prevent the development of aggression in children in South Africa through book sharing.
  • Benoit Ruratotoye – Goma Institute of Higher Education for Mental Health Professionals and Promundo consultant.  His particular focus is working with families, particularly working with men, who have experienced violence in conflict.
  • Rachel Jewkes – Director of the What Works to Prevent Violence Global Programme, as well as the Director of the South African Medical Research Council’s Gender and Health Research Unit and Secretary of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative. She is an Honorary Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health and a public health physician. She has spent 20 years undertaking research into violence against women and girls and gender inequity and health, mainly in South Africa.
  • Rozina Karmaliani – Professor at Aga Khan University working with the Right To Play initiative in Pakistan, which is focused on preventing Violence Against Women and Girls through Sport and Play, to assess best practice approaches from working through schools and sports programmes, to build positive attitudes and support for gender equality among young people.
  • Parinita Bhattacharjee – Director, Programmes, at the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust specializing in preparing participatory tools on sexual health. Particular focus on forms of intimate partner violence and associated HIV risk and vulnerability among women in sex work in Karnataka, India
  • Binita Shrestha – from Equal Access, an international NGO which uses the media to address the most critical challenges affecting people in the developing world such as women & girls’ empowerment, youth life skills & livelihoods, human rights, health and civic participation & governance. Working on Change Starts At Home – focused on preventing violence against women and girls in Nepal.
  • Yandisa Sikweyiya – a researcher with the Medical Research Council in South Africa, focused on working with men, in particular men who rape, and is co-facilitating a session at the conference on the ethical and safety issues of working with men, in the field of violence prevention. 

Conference details:
DATE: 15 -17 September
VENUE: Spier Stellenbosch, Cape Town

For more information visit:


Follow our twitter handle @The SVRI hashtag #SVRIForum2015

In the event that you are unable to attend the conference, pease contact the address below for telephonic/skype interviews with speakers

Keletso Ratsela
Media Strategist
Tel: +27 76 0939 185

Rebecca Ladbury

Tel: + 44 (0) 7941 224 975

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4 July, 2016
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