The Black Women's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault will take place April 28 through May 1, 2016 at the United Nations in New York City. This Truth Commission is an important opportunity to provide a milestone in the nation's efforts to address sexual violence.
A truth and reconciliation commission is tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government in an effort to move toward healing and resolve conflict. It is an opportunity for those who have been victims of systemic violence and/or injustice to provide testimony about its impact and have such injustices formally recognized. Most notable was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid in the 1990s.
The Black Women's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the first of its kind in the nation to focus on rape and sexual assault against Black women in the United States. Women and girls of African descent-- many of whom were denied access and assistance from the criminal justice system-- began to organize, realizing their individual and collective transformation could not happen without public recognition and acknowledgment of the injustices and harms they had experienced.
WCSAP acknowledges the disproportionate effect of sexual violence (22% higher than White women, NISVS) survived by Black women in the United States today as well as throughout the history of the country that was built by and upon their bodies. We strive to center these survivors' experiences in the work we do here at the coalition and in our annual conference next month. I encourage you, as well as the whole WCSAP staff, to view the digital reckoning videos that seek to address these important questions:
- Have Black men ever hurt Black women?
- What does this nation owe Black women?
- What can White Americans do to make things right?
- How does sexual violence affect homes and communities?
- What can White allies in the feminist movement do?
- What can Black men do to support Black women when they experience sexual violence?
- How do you think violence has affected your life or Black women that you know?
WCSAP deeply respects the five years of preparation, research, and survivor action that has made this historic reckoning possible. We encourage you to participate and/or learn more about this Commission. There are opportunities available through Black Women's Blueprint for Black survivors of sexual assault to share their stories with the tribunal.