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Survivors from 15 countries create a regional movement to stop sexual violence

April 2024

Last month, for the first time, survivors from 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean gathered to create a regional movement combatting sexual violence against children.

“The launch of the ‘Movimiento Valientes’ (Brave Movement) is bringing together survivor activists from across the region to join forces, to share experiences and, most importantly, to represent the voices of survivors in decision-making spaces at regional and global levels,” said Liza Ordoñez, IJM leader in Advocacy and Partnerships for Latin America

As survivors who experienced sexual violence during their childhood, these women and men understand what it means for a child to live in fear and isolation, and the shame and the stigma associated with sexual violence.

Their experiences give them vital expertise and insight into how to protect children in Latin America.

The survivor leaders met in Argentina to begin building a regional strategy focused on prevention, healing, and justice.

Supported by IJM, the movement was co-founded by Guatemalan survivor leader Betzy* and Colombian survivor leader Leidy* (pictured).

Leidy reflected: "It was a very enriching activity. I realized that I am not alone. I feel more encouraged to continue working for this cause."

Among the Movement’s first achievements is the creation of a key report, calling to remove the time limit on cases of child sexual violence.

This step is critical for child survivors, who often take many years to break the silence due to fear and shame and therefore lose the opportunity to seek justice.

Changing the law would mean that a victim or their legal representatives can file a complaint or initiate legal proceedings. The Movement proposes that this new rule be applied retroactively to cases that have already exceeded the established time.

The collaboration of survivors, government institutions and global organisations like IJM is catalyzing the fight against sexual violence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Brave Movement will soon participate in the first Ministerial Conference to End Violence Against Children (EVAC).

With confidence that transformation is possible in Latin America, Leidy affirms: "I feel that all this work is not in vain”.

*pseudonym

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