Survivors’ perspectives: how to stay safe and struggle for justice

by Sarah Wangari and Amitha Priyanthi interviewed by Wangui Kimari, Thiagi Piyadasa and Ermiza Tegal

10 May 2022
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
15 (pp.21-36)

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Abstract: How does one stay safe and protect one’s family while fighting for justice? What are the dilemmas of protection when everyday life is a constant struggle against police and state brutality? These are questions addressed in interviews with Sarah Wangari and Amitha Priyanthi from Kenya and Sri Lanka respectively. Both women are survivors, grassroots human rights defenders and community activists, working on the frontline of the fight against torture. They were interviewed here as experts on the question of protection rather than as informants of human rights violations. As the interviews illustrate, the boundary between survivor and experts on protection is hard to draw for Sarah and Amitha. The position and practices of survivor-experts gives them a privileged point of view from which to understand what protective strategies from the point of view of survivors of state and police violence may entail. Human rights organisations would do well to heed their challenges, practices and implicit call for support and recognition if they want to stay relevant for survivors and their families.

Keywords: Torture, survivors, acrivists, protection, human rights.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 3 (Human Rights Protection and Torture).

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