ResourcesPress Release

Kavanaugh Confirmation Threatens to Permanently Silence the Voices of Survivors

New York, NY

The following statement is attributable to Physicians for Human Rights Executive Director Donna McKay:

“Today’s vote by the U.S. Senate to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the new U.S. Supreme Court Justice is deeply troubling and disappointing. The entire process was one of extreme discord, untrue narratives, and credible accusations that were not adequately investigated – all critical factors in why so many sexual abuse survivors decide to remain silent.

“Physicians for Human Rights has for decades trained thousands of health care professionals to evaluate survivors of sexual violence of all ages, and from all backgrounds, from Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Iraq, and beyond. We know that survivors are gripped by fear and that, more often than not, they decide to remain silent and to never take a stand against their perpetrators. They would rather bury their shame and suffering in the hope that time will make the memories and the pain go away, rather than be subjected to public scrutiny, potential retaliation, and a life-long stigma that is associated with sexual abuse.

“It’s ironic that this comes within 24 hours of a much needed light shone on sexual violence when the Norwegian Nobel Committee chose two heroes in the fight against sexual violence to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It comes at a time of #MeToo and it comes as a global movement of survivors courageously speaks out. The rushed and frantic nature of the Kavanaugh hearings, and the derisive, dismissive and unscientific language which emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee, flies in the face of the hard work carried out by health professionals, lawyers, and other human rights advocates everywhere to ensure that survivors are treated with dignity and respect.

“We need to be sending the world the message that regardless of political views and party affiliations, and regardless of social status or financial standing – every survivor’s voice matters. This was not the message that emerged from the Kavanaugh hearings when credible accusations of sexual assault by Dr. Ford were brought forward.

“This confirmation sets a dangerous precedent for those in power to summarily dismiss the allegations of survivors and does nothing to inspire those who have suffered abuse to come forward with their stories and to seek justice and accountability. In fact, it does everything to further mute the voices of the millions who already suffer in silence.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.