Inge Genefke / Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims
( 1988 , Danemark )

...for helping those whose lives have been shattered by torture to regain their health and personality.

The aim of torture is to destroy a person as a human being, to destroy their identity and soul. It is more evil than murder.


In response to Amnesty International’s appeal in 1973 to the medical profession to help fight torture, Dr Inge Genefke formed the first Amnesty International medical group in Denmark. At that time no knowledge existed about the destructive influence of torture on the victim’s physical and psychological health, so the work started from scratch. The pioneering investigations of Genefke’s group resulted in the establishment of more medical groups the world over. The need for treatment and rehabilitation then led, in 1982, to the establishment of the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Copenhagen, with Dr Genefke as medical director.

Contact

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
Copenhagen Europe Center
Vesterbrogade 149, building 4, 3rd floor
1620 Copenhagen V
DENMARK
http://www.irct.org/

DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture
Bryggervangen 55
2100 Copenhagen ¯
DENMARK
http://www.dignityinstitute.org/

Biography

In response to Amnesty International’s appeal in 1973 to the medical profession to help fight torture, Dr Inge Genefke formed the first Amnesty International medical group in Denmark. At that time no knowledge existed about the destructive influence of torture on the victim’s physical and psychological health, so the work started from scratch. The pioneering investigations of Genefke’s group resulted in the establishment of more medical groups the world over. The need for treatment and rehabilitation then led, in 1982, to the establishment of the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Copenhagen, with Dr Genefke as medical director.

The objectives of RCT are:

  • to operate a centre for rehabilitation of persons who have been tortured, and of such persons’ families;
  • to instruct Danish and foreign health service personnel in the examination and treatment of persons who have been tortured, and through instruction in wider fora to propagate knowledge about torture, forms of torture and the possibilities of rehabilitating persons subjected to them;
  • to conduct and initiate research on torture and the nature and extent of its consequences;
  • to operate and extend an international …

In response to Amnesty International’s appeal in 1973 to the medical profession to help fight torture, Dr Inge Genefke formed the first Amnesty International medical group in Denmark. At that time no knowledge existed about the destructive influence of torture on the victim’s physical and psychological health, so the work started from scratch. The pioneering investigations of Genefke’s group resulted in the establishment of more medical groups the world over. The need for treatment and rehabilitation then led, in 1982, to the establishment of the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Copenhagen, with Dr Genefke as medical director.

The objectives of RCT are:

  • to operate a centre for rehabilitation of persons who have been tortured, and of such persons’ families;
  • to instruct Danish and foreign health service personnel in the examination and treatment of persons who have been tortured, and through instruction in wider fora to propagate knowledge about torture, forms of torture and the possibilities of rehabilitating persons subjected to them;
  • to conduct and initiate research on torture and the nature and extent of its consequences;
  • to operate and extend an international documentation centre, and through the above activities to contribute to the prevention of torture.

The rehabilitation programme is based on a holistic treatment emphasising psychotherapy. Because close relatives are also affected whenever a person has been subjected to torture, treatment aims to aid both the survivor and his/her spouse and children.

In 1986, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) was established by RCT as a private, humanitarian, non-political organisation. The most important task of IRCT is to contribute to the establishment and operation of rehabilitation centres worldwide. Several times a year it hosts international training seminars for health professionals, both in Denmark and abroad.

Today, almost 100 centres and programmes in 75 countries provide treatment for thousands of torture victims every year. RCT has assisted in supporting and setting up the majority of these centres, e.g. in Albania, Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Estonia, Equatorial Guinea, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Kenya, Kuwait, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine, Uganda and Uruguay ay. At the request of the European Union, IRCT has participated in the establishment of professional assistance to rape victims from the war in former Yugoslavia.

The IRCT cooperates with a range of international agencies and national medical associations. It has also created an international torture documentation network and produced books, articles and films in addition to its quarterly journal.

In 1997, the RCT and IRCT were separated into two independent organisations and IRCT has now become an international umbrella organisation for rehabilitation centres and organisations worldwide. The RCT changed names in 2012 and is now operating as DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture.

 
 

FAQs about Inge Genefke

asked in 2005

1. Do you have a job in which everyone would lose his or her smile sooner or later?

No. Rather because of the many highly ethical victims of torture my smile is now after more than 30 years of work warmer and more confident. We know today that we CAN help them. And then of course we should.

2. Is torture on the way to become an accepted instrument of warfare and operations against political enemies again?

Torture is NOT to become an accepted instrument of warfare and operations against political enemies again, no. It has always been at a certain level. The latest development, the war against terrorism makes it more difficult. We know torture creates terrorism. We know torture is a power instrument for many governments. But with all the professional knowledge of torture we have today, I do no think the politicians dare to undertake the slippery way of accepting torture publicly.

3. What is the first step in the rehabilitation of a torture survivor?

To create trust, to show respect, to show you are humble to the great task to assist someone who has gone through the most horrible trauma in the world. To show humanity.

4. Why is it so important to work against torture?

Because torture is the worst trauma, the most effective power instrument against democracy. Because three billion people – half of the population in the world – live in countries, where governments condone torture, instigate torture, and even institutionalize torture. And the governments do this in order to keep power. Because torture victims are courageous people who work for more democracy in the world. People like: honest politicians, honest journalists, union members/leaders, human rights fighters, student leaders, leaders of minority groups. They take these people in, make them down through torture. Because torture is very bad as an information instrument, but very good at destroying the personality of people. And because we can help the people back to a good life.

5. What effect has the Right Livelihood Award had on your work?

Great happiness in the honour of receiving it. Great happiness in meeting the people behind the award: especially of course Jakob von Uexküll – but also his team. More visibility for our work for victims of torture. Great happiness in meeting the other laureates.

Publications

  • Medical work against torture. N Engl J Med, 1980.
  • Psychotherapy for victims of torture. FE Somnier, IK Genefke. British Journal of
  • Psychiatry, 1986.
  • Rehabilitation of torture victims: an interdisciplinary treatment model. J Ortmann, IK Genefke, L Jakobsen. American Journal of Social Psychiatry, 1987.
  • Torture and its treatment. EF Roth Jr, I Lunde, G Boysen, IK Genefke. Am J Public Health, 1987.
  • Perspective on the present and the future. Journal of Medical Ethics, 1991.
  • Torture in the world today. Cape Town: VII International Symposium, 1995.
  • Torture: a plague to the world-society. IK Genefke, H Marcussen, OV Rasmussen. Journal of the Indian Medical Association, 2001.