The fringe is an incredible array of performance, art installations, silent cinema, intense discussion, research exhibitions, artisanal goods, people and presentations. The free event at London´s ExCeL saw politicians,journalists, NGOs and members of the public from the UK and around the world convene to browse the exhibits, attend events and participate in the largest event of its kind ever staged.

End Sexual Violence Summit Day One

Opening the fringe event UK Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary William Hague pledged £6m to help victims of sexual violence in conflict. Co-chair of the summit Angelina Jolie joined Mr Hague at the opening of the fringe. Speaking passionately to the audience she put a pursuit of justice and respect for victims at the heart of her speech, saying, “We must send a message around the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence,that the shame is with the aggressor.”

Once the summit was opened the events began, with five rooms reserved for panel discussions, survivor testimonies and roundtable discussions. Return to Manhood gave a presentation on their important work in Kenya and Ghana, helping to ensure that young boys grow into men of courage and character. The National Alliance of Women’s Organisations convened a discussion on engaging youth to end sexual violence in conflict. Women and girls from the UK, El Salvador and Guatemala spoke about their views, opinions and experiences ofsexual violence. A survivor emphasised the need to engage with youth in order to come to a solution, “since they will become our future politicians, leaders, and teachers."

The Royal Commonwealth Society is exhibiting a piece of research entitled ‘Hidden Violence in the Commonwealth’, which aims to show through an infographic and report, the various forms of violence that citizens of the Commonwealth experience, which is often hidden from public view, whether stigmatised or unreported because of fear. For many people who visited, violence is an issue that transcends the borders of conflict countries and it was compelling to hear those who were also working to highlight gender and social violence or talk through these issues with those who were simply interested and wanted to find out more. The summit fringe is open until Thursday 12th June, so do join us at the Excel London from 9am-8pm.

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Hidden Violence in the Commonwealth Report Cover