The South-South Institute (SSI) was established in 2012 as a collaboration between organisations and individuals working in the field of sexual violence, led by the Refugee Law Project (RLP) in Kampala, Uganda, and others from New Zealand and Cambodia. These organisations’ histories included work with male survivors of sexual violence in diverse settings, including conflict, post-conflict and post-colonial settings.
We emphasise the ‘south-south’ in order to acknowledge, value and place at the forefront, the strengths, resources, skills, diversity and wisdom of those in the global south, which have long been neglected or silenced. We are committed to democratising learning, and challenging the harmful assumptions and power structures that contribute to sexual violence within a post-colonial world. SSI established a safe space in which the previously little-discussed issue of conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys, could be surfaced in countries either directly or indirectly impacted by conflict and sexual violence. Thus far, it has been a compelling journey in terms of geography and the issues and topics addressed.
The first SSI live gathering was held in Kampala, Uganda in April 2013, and drew together survivors, practitioners, academics, students, and policy makers (many who were also survivors themselves) to focus on conflict-related sexual violence. The second SSI, hosted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in May 2015, attracted participants from 35 countries and considered histories of sexual violence in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, as well as the challenges of child sexual abuse against boys, and the extent to which this was itself in part a legacy of conflict. The third SSI, hosted by the Maori Cultural Institution in Christchurch, New Zealand in November 2017, tackled the even longer-lasting sexual abuse legacies related to systemic racism and institutional abuse - and explored how colonialism contributed to the legacy of sexual violence. SSI IV, which returned to Kampala, Uganda, in May 2019, explored the question of Bridging the Sexual Violence – Torture Divide.
We had planned to meet in the UK in 2020, but global events (as we are all now painfully aware) had other plans for us, and the world at large.
After three years, a global pandemic, a harsh reckoning in the global north on colonialism and race, growing trends toward xenophobia, nationalism, and authoritarianism, and ongoing conflicts - with numerous reports of sexual violence against civilian populations - the need to draw together has perhaps never been more evident. SSI has therefore recently held a series of online events where survivors, researchers and others shared their wisdom, experiences and achievements.
The SSI community is growing and becoming more diverse, and you are most welcome to join us in the months and years ahead, as we seek to give voice to survivors and collaborate to learn, share, support and address sexual violence, abuse and exploitation in all its forms.