Strengthening Women Survivors of Violence in Post-Conflict Transitions in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and Myanmar

Data on sexual violence against women and men, both during and after conflicts, shows alarming levels of abuse across the globe. According to UN Women, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In Sarajevo, the United Nations reports that some 80% of the 5,000 male inmates held at a concentration camp reported being raped, and more than 50,000 women were raped. In Colombia, 36% of internally displaced women reported being raped, according to the Ministry for Social Protection. In Timor-Leste, Truth Commission investigators collected statements pointing to systematic evidence of sexual violence, including rape and sexual slavery, carried out during the conflict with Indonesia.

High rates of sexual violence do not end when a peace agreement is signed. In fact, they often continue long after conflicts have ended. Why? These abuses are often excluded from peace processes and conflict resolution mechanisms. This can be the result of a lack of readily available data or simply because the issue is too sensitive. As a result, public authorities tend to tolerate high rates of impunity on sexual violence-related crimes, even in times of peace. In other words, they simply fail to bring perpetrators in these cases to justice.

This project seeks to help break this cycle by generating practical knowledge around the nature of sexual violence and impunity with an emphasis on Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Researchers will also begin exploratory work in Myanmar, where sexual violence remains a key feature of past and present conflicts. More specifically, the research will:
-help women survivors of sexual violence achieve justice by participating in action research;
-generate practical, in-depth knowledge to identify ways to use the research evidence to engage local and national policymakers and community leaders;
-identify comparative lessons, success stories, and tools for policymakers;
-contribute to a transitional justice framework which improves the accountability, legitimacy, and effectiveness of regional, national, and international human rights institutions to combat sexual violence; and,
-generate findings about the socio-economic needs of women sexual violence survivors and their access to support services to help improve and address gaps in services.

By working with civil society and sexual violence survivors, researchers will examine why and how sexual violence impunity persists, with the goal of developing an evidence base that will help victims' organizations and governments address these crimes. The research team will document incidents of sexual violence and map out survivor strategies to overcome trauma, meet practical needs, and seek justice. They will also hold focused dialogues to collect and share evidence on what works and what does not work to address impunity on issues of sexual violence.

Through this collaborative approach, the project aims to enhance the legitimacy and accountability of state institutions in addressing impunity around sexual violence crimes by documenting how state and civil society actors can work together and provide services to sexual violence survivors.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Monday, April 1, 2013

End Date

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


30 months

IDRC Officer

Singh, Navsharan

Total funding

CA$ 660,600


Far East Asia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Central Asia, South Asia, Colombia, Republic of Congo


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Ms. Galuh Wandita


Asian Justice and Rights Foundation

Institution Country


Institution Website