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Acknowledgement Forums

Victims of serious violations of human rights have the right to tell the truth about the abuses they have suffered and they have the right to be listened to.

In order to facilitate such a process of acknowledgement, various societies and organizations have searched for ways of providing a setting in which victims can recount their stories to a specific commission or a group of stakeholders who are in the position to acknowledge the violations and start a process of investigation and reconciliation.  

Certainly, the Ryan Commission in Ireland is one of the best known and longstanding institutions in this field. Recently, further initiatives have developed in this field, as for example in the UK, The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, or in Germany, the Independent Commission for Acknowledging Child Sexual Abuse (Unabhängige Kommission zur Aufarbeitung sexuellen Kindesmissbrauchs).

Although the project VOICE cannot accomplish an encompassing process of investigating and acknowledging sexual violence in European sport, it follows the principles of the above mentioned forerunners and tries to take first steps into this direction in the field of sport with the National VOICE Forums.

National VOICE forums

Each of the 8 national VOICE-Partners will stage a sport specific acknowledgement-forum in the respective country. These Forums provide a safe and supportive space for those who have been disempowered through the experience of sexual violence to tell their story.

The Forums aim to give VOICE to individual athletes and ex-athletes, and to harness the power of their stories for the positive development of sporting cultures and communities.

In order to facilitate this, each partner will co-partner a national or regional victim-support institution and an influential sport organization with an appropriate remit (e.g. on national or regional level).

In partnership with these organsations, each country will stage a national “Acknowledgement Forum” on sexualized violence in sport for participants from the sports, youth-work and child protection/welfare sectors.

These Forums will be an opportunity for victims, where they so wish, to recount their story, to engage in dialogue with each other, and with key stakeholders in sport, in a supportive, safe, environment.

A key objective is to help create better conditions for reconciliation by encouraging institutional reform and changes in culture. The Forums also serve as a platform for the university partners to present findings from their research and on the basis of this, to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders.

This process will be carefully managed and all partners will agree on ethical guidelines for conducting the Forums. Each partner will include the expertise of the victim support organisation in the respective country in order to set up the ethical guidelines for the Forum.

Core commitments

The Acknowledgement Forums will be underpinned by the following Core Commitments