What We Do
Independent Scholars / Human Right Educators & Defenders / Grassroot Supporters
Human Rights Defenders against Non-State Torture, International Human Rights Educators, Speakers, Consultants, Researchers, Activists, Writers, and Listeners of Atrocity.
Why do we do what we do?
This question is asked of us very frequently as it was, at the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), by Doris Mae Oulton, editor of the CFUW newsletter Communicator. Her question was asked in relation to the resolution on the Criminalization of Non-State Actor Torture (see page 167)that was passed into policy and "Why a Resolution Gets Started and How it gets Completed: Non-State Actor Torture (NSAT)".
Our answer was and remains: The reasons we became involved in exposing NSAT goes back to 1993. Working with mostly women reporting relationally violent experiences, we immediately realized one woman‘s disclosures mirrored acts of 'classic‘ torture, socially perceived to exist only in the public domain of State torturing. Electric shocking, prolonged hours of being hung, cut, burnt, whipped, beaten, limbs dislocated, starved, caged, water tortured, drugged, bestiality, pseudo-necrophilic and torture-rapes, forced impregnations and abortions identified some tortures she detailed suffering since childhood, inflicted within a family/group system. Unable to find torture-informed support for her and unwilling to abandon her led us to become independent researchers/scholars, human right defenders and grassroot supporters. Opening our website, www.nonstatetorture.org brought mainly women from Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, the U.S. and Canada to contact us reporting NSAT victimization. We remain outraged that article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states "no one shall be subjected to torture" has been discarded as a human rights violation inflicted predominately against women/girls in the domestic/private sphere. This is unconscionable and intolerable.
Transforming this discriminatory and dehumanizing worldview—including a Canadian socio-cultural viewpoint—is why we do what we do. Envisioning a world that would one day honour the human rights of all persons—of women and girls as well as men and boys—not to be subjected to torture at any time, in any place irrespective of who the torturers are has driven us to break the silence anywhere and everywhere.
How have we stayed with this work so long?
This is another common question we are asked. Our answer is simply that we stay for the infants and children still captive in such destructive groups. We go to sleep each night knowing that there are babies being born into this world forced to live the reality of daily torture and suffering. And that these infants and children have no one to speak for them. We stay with the issue of non-state torture for them --- the wee ones.
Our Work - Relational Feminists
We work from a human rights, relational feminist perspective. All forms of non-state torture (NST) are a violation of the victimized persons human rights as stated in international human rights instruments such as UDHR, CAT, CEDAW, ICCPR and CRC. Perpetrators of NST, like all torturers, goal is the destruction of the victimized person's sense of personhood, therefore, our relational perspective is aimed at helping individuals so victimized to reclaim and empower their relationship with/to/for Self.
There are many forms of NST, such as ritual abuse-torture (RAT), child torture, spousal torture, relational torture, acculuraltural, and combinations of all of these, such as enduring torture - NST - when being trafficked. These realities are all found in our writings, our educational materials and our presentations.
Since 1993 we have been relationship educators and human rights defenders working with persons who have experienced various forms of non-state torture, including ritual abuse-torture that is inflicted in domestic/private spaces. We listen to persons who have survived torture by non-state actors and continue to integrate this research into writings for academic publication and for educational presentations. Our goal is to have non-state torture recognized as a national crime and a specific and distinct global human rights violation.
Nursing Awards and Nominations
In 2013, The College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia selected Linda for the Excellence in Nursing Clinical Practice Award.
In 2003 we were nominated for the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia Client/Public Health Advocacy Award in recognition for our education and activism advocating for recognizing the human rights violation of ritual abuse-torture, a form of non-State torture.
In 1998, Linda and I were nominated for the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia Client/Public Health Advocacy Award for our work with the Anaphylaxis Support Group and in creating safe environments in schools.
In 1991, the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia presented Jeanne with the Excellence in Nursing Practice Award.
Our Acitvism Collage
Click on a thumbnail to view.
Human Rights Defenders
"Human rights defenders" is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights.
Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights is a United Nations fact sheet that can be accessed at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet29en.pdf
Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) www.awid.org produced Ten Insights To Strengthen Responses For Women Human Rights Defenders At Risk by Inmaculada and Analia Penchaszadeh.
Jeanne - I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and am of Acadian-Metis descent. I only knew my father as an extremely violent and misogynistic man. My mother, was a pioneer woman in that she moved out of the social norm of the time and became a single mother raising my younger brother and me. Following my nursing education, I nursed in St. John, New Brunswick then moved to Inuvik, Northwest Terrorities, where I married. My partner and I honeymooned on Hershel Island, in the Beaufort Sea, which was inhabited temporarily by three Inuit families. Our twin sons were born in Whitehorse, Yukon. In total, my partner and I spent 11 years working and living all across the Canadian Arctic, eventually moving back to Nova Scotia. My family has enlarged to include one grandson. I enjoy travelling, gardening, and express my creativity writing about NST with the 'dream' that one day I will see the world embrace the elimination of all forms of relational violence including NST.
Linda - I was born in Charlottetown, P.E.I, Canada into a family of domestic violence and have worked very hard to free my-Self from the effects of such trauma. I am married and have three adult children, one son and two daughters, in that order. Besides my activist work I have worked as a hospital based nurse, community health nurse and now as a home care coordinator. I love to travel, try different foods, watch movies and documentaries and have a good laugh. My dream is to live long enough to see society become truly aware of how prevalent relational violence is and to be part of helping towards preventing such harm. People ask me why I do the human rights work that I do and my answer is when I was 7 years old I learned about the reality of the Holocaust and told my-Self then if I ever came across atrocities I would not walk away. So here I am standing to have NST recognized as a crime and human rights violation.
Our main goal is EDUCATION by:
1. SHARING INFORMATION about healing, prevention, and/or activism;
2. RESOURCE development for educational and healing purposes;
3. RESEARCH to add to the developing knowledge on the prevalence and understanding of the many forms of non-state torture including ritual abuse-torture;
4. CONNECTING with others with mutual goals; and,
5. SOCIAL ACTIVISM making a safer world for infants, children, youth and vulnerable adults.
Photos on our Side Bar
We chose these photos because they respresent invisibilization and we are breaking the silence about NST. For more information on The Persons Case The Famous Five one of the Famous Five representatively gagged and silenced shared by FAFIA and a video about Nellie McClung one of the Famous Five.
Two photos of us on the sidebar were taken in 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. We are standing and sitting among "The Petrified" sculptures by Carl Bucher. "The Petrified" are faceless and silenced and one of the Famous Five is gagged. These photos represent the purpose of our wesbite which is to break the silence about the reality of all forms of NST. The image and statement at the bottom of the side bar that reads, "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" is article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The image is the art of Brazilian artist Octavia Roth. This artwork and statement hangs on the walls of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It sets a human right goal for all of us to work to achieve - that no one, at any time, or in any place will be torturtured whether by State or non-state actors, whether in the public or private spheres.
Jeanne & Linda protesting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2009