New Monash University program to support international scholars facing persecution

Monash University

Monash University

The role of sexual violence as a weapon of war in the Russian invasion of Ukraine will be discussed in a new landmark speaker series at Monash University promoting academic freedom of speech.

The Monash Scholars at Risk Speaker Series, which aims to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of international scholars who are unjustly threatened or persecuted for their work, will kick off with a keynote presentation from Ukrainian researcher Dr Marta Havryshko on Thursday, 26 May.

Dr Havryshko, who evacuated from Ukraine with her son and is currently in Switzerland, will join Monash Faculty of Arts’ Professor Jacqui True, Associate Professor Paula Michaels and Dr Daniel Heller in a live stream discussion following her talk on sexual violence in the contemporary war in Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, as well as past wars.

The event will be introduced and hosted by Monash University Provost and Senior Vice-President, Professor Susan Elliott AM.

Scholars at Risk is an international network of hundreds of institutions across more than 40 countries founded to protect the human rights of scholars, provide support for intellectuals threatened by persecution and violence, and promote the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech worldwide.

Monash joined the network in 2018 and is one of 18 founding members in Australia. This is the first time it will host a major event.

In her presentation, Dr Havryshko will reflect on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as one of the greatest human rights and humanitarian crises in Europe since WWII, particularly sexual violence as a military strategy.

Professor Elliott said the Monash Scholars at Risk Speaker Series was an opportunity for Monash communities and the wider public to learn about threats to academic freedom and attacks on scholars, as well as scholars’ own scholarships and experiences.

“Monash has earned an international reputation for advocacy and support for scholars who have been targeted for persecution. For example, by helping to evacuate Afghan scholars and their family members to Australia after the fall of Kabul last year. The Monash Scholars at Risk Speaker Series is an excellent opportunity to advance that advocacy further,” Professor Elliott said.

“Geopolitical security is recognised as a global challenge under the University’s Impact 2030 strategic plan. Our engagement with the Scholars at Risk Network further advances the University’s efforts to address the significant human insecurities created by geopolitical instability, including war and conflict.”

Professor True, Director of the Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre, said it was incredibly important to assist in the promotion of academic freedom and provide an opportunity for Dr Havryshko to speak about her work, and the atrocities and human rights violence taking place in Ukraine, while in exile.

“This event provides an important opportunity for our university community, and the wider public, to

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