News from the Locarno Festival

Stop the Violence

Stop the Violence



To strengthen democracy, peace and human rights around the world: this is the ambitious objective of "Democracy Without Borders", an initiative launched at the 67° Festival del film Locarno (as part of the Open Doors section) by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The first event-in the presence of the President of the Swiss Confederation Didier Burkhalter-is scheduled on August 10th in L'altra Sala and will include a panel discussion (hosted by Reto Ceschi) on the issue of impunity for violence against women and girls around the world.

Sexual violence is often used as a systematic weapon of warfare, but it is also a phenomenon that persists in the aftermath of conflicts with devastating long-term effects on the victims. In order to deepen the discussion about the different challenges women face in Africa and around the globe, the Ticinese journalist of the Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana (RSI) is going to talk with Navanethem "Navi" Pillay (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights), Venantie Bisimwa Nabintu (Executive Secretary of the Congolese NGO “Réseau des Femmes pour la défense des Droits et la Paix”), Danaé van der Straten Ponthoz (Legal Adviser with the NGO “TRIAL”), Giancarlo De Picciotto (Head of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the Great Lakes Region), the film's director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari and its producer Mehret Mandefro.

The organization of a panel discussion involving Swiss and international people who are active in development cooperation projects represents only a part of Switzerland's long-standing commitment to combat sexual violence. The FDFA, in fact, is currently involved in three projects: in Honduras project ambassadors are helping young people to escape poverty and violence, while in Tunisia some others are working to strengthen the role of women in politics and to improve the quality of the media. In the African Great Lakes region (Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), finally, other professionals are providing medical, psychosocial and legal aid to victims of (sexual) gender-based violence according to the programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Mattia Bertoldi
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