08 Mar 2020
Women of the IRCT: Inge Genefke

To mark the 2020 International Women’s Day (8 March), IRCT wants to celebrate the achievements of the many women in the anti-torture and rehabilitation movement. These amazing women dedicate their lives to ensure that torture survivors can be healed and obtain a meaningful life after torture. Over the next weeks IRCT will feature some of these women and ask them what this movement means to them and what's it's like being a woman in the anti-torture sector.

To start the series, we will begin with the woman pivotal to IRCT - our beloved founder Dr. Inge Genefke. Her stubborn courage over the years to grow IRCT means that we continue to reach thousands of torture survivors each year.

Women of the IRCT: Inge Genefke

Inge Genefke has left her mark on the anti-torture movement and has done since 1984. She is the principle founder of Copenhagen’s Center for Research and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (RCT) and the International Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) and served as secretary general and medical leader of both organisations; leading international campaigns against torture. Inge has been nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize and received the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize and the Right to Livelihood Award in 1998. With frequent recognition from governments, medical and humanitarian organisations Inge is seen as a pioneer in the anti-torture movement. Inge was also portrayed in the international film The Secret Life of Words by the actress Julie Christie, about a torture survivor. The film was also made into an opera, inspired by Inge’s experiences. 

Because of Inge’s hard and dedicated work in the anti-torture movement, IRCT has grown to have 158 member centres in 75 countries in all regions of the world. Her fierce passion for fighting the evil use of torture is still inspiring many activists worldwide. Travelling to many dangerous countries, where she had to be extremely discreet and obtain information, places where she couldn’t even utter the word “torture” in fear of prosecution, Inge was determined to continue her mission despite the many threats. Inge sees the right to rehabilitation as a pivotal step in the life after torture, giving survivors hope and a means to continue their lives and obtain employment. Inge documented that torture survivors can be successfully treated, and she broke the silence surrounding the existence of torture. An important part of her work was teaching people how to treat torture survivors and how to set up their own treatment centres. Teaching police how to avoid using torture by teaching them law and relevant conventions governing the treatment of prisoners is an important aspect in IRCT’s work, which Inge also started. Thanks to her stubbornness and temper, Inge has accomplished change, achieved results and inspired our local partners to pursue the mission with courage. 

For decades, Inge Genefke has sought to fight torture as effectively as possible. Her temperament, which sometimes gets her into trouble, has also equipped her to achieve her goals. Her compassion for the survivors of torture she has met in her work, knowing their harrowing stories and seeing their faces, has given her sleepless nights but thankfully, and most importantly, a will to see that nothing is impossible.

“There are methods so monstrous that one cannot bear even hearing about them. That is why many people turn their backs on the mere mention of torture – and tragically, also on those working against torture.” - Inge Genefke    

For more information

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

To read more, please visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

“There are methods so monstrous that one cannot bear even hearing about them. That is why many people turn their backs on the mere mention of torture – and tragically, also on those working against torture.”

- Dr. Inge Genefke    

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