News & Updates 14 January 2014

Action Research with Women Survivors of Torture and Violence

AJAR is conducting a two-year action research project, with support from IDRC, to understand how women victims in conflict/ post-conflict settings experience impunity, develop strategies for survival, and find ways to empower themselves

AJAR aims to uphold the rights of women victims by empowering survivors to articulate their issues through participatory action research, and develop and implement an agenda for change. With support from the International Development Research Council (IDRC), AJAR is conducting a two-year action research project to gain an understanding of how women victims in conflict/ post-conflict settings experience impunity, develop strategies for survival, and strengthen an applied approach to research that empowers survivors.

TIn July 2013, researchers from Indonesia and Timor-Leste developed seven instruments to facilitate community-based discussions. We adapted tools for participatory action research such as (1) timeline and (2) community mapping to faciliate discussions about community experiences of violations, (3) resource mapping to identify the social economic impact of human rights violations. We adapted a women’s health method (4) body mapping to encourage women to speak about sites of pain and happiness on their bodies. We also developed some new methods, we are calling (5) stone and flower to talk about justice, truth, reparations and freedom from violence; (6) photo stories where researchers interview survivors while taking pictures of important items identified by the interviewee, (7) memory box where participants share the content of a box that they were asked to fill with items that were significant to them.

The research design also reflects some innovative elements:

  • Women survivors of violence play an active role as researchers and facilitators in their communities
  • The researchers are composed of local/community leaders, activists & survivors
  • The objectives of the research are built into the methodology: to empower women survivors, facilitate a collective healing process, recognize their role/the positon of women survivors, deepen our understanding about conflict and impunity, build solidarity and networking & using multi-media and theater as way to promote dialogue.

In January 2014, researchers from Burma/Myanmar have also joined the project.

AJAR will host a series of regional seminars on gender justice in November 2014 and February 2015. During these events we will share our research findings with key stakeholders.  A publication will be launched in 2015.