Gender Based Violence is a vice that affects everybody regardless of gender – male or female one way or the other we all have experienced one form or the other of GBV.
GBV can either be physical or emotional and some people go through the emotional violence without knowing and believing it to be normal.
Some women are denied rights of movements. They have to always keep indoors and no speaking to anyone in the family. Undermining a person’s value, blackmail, exclusion from critical decision making, threatening with death or beating, bullying and even abduction of children, men and women these are all either physical or psychological forms GBV.
People normally look at the sexual abuse such as defilement, rape, sodomy, incest as the only forms of GBV but we forget that exposure to pornographic materials, sexual harassment, forced anal or oral sex, exposing genitals to children, child prostitution are all forms of sexual abuse.
Physicals abuses such as cutting a person, biting, beating, attempts to strangle, kicking a person, child labour etc. are all forms of gender based violence.
Back home in Uganda in my village, GBV has always been a community concern. The community where I grew up in, everybody else was a mother to a child. If a child or a man constantly disciplined by beating, as the men or mothers generally wanted to justify their bad beating behaviours, it would attract the wider community. Physical beating was visible but psychological/mental tortures wouldn’t be seen unless it goes out of hand then the tell tales begins to show on the person being abused. In most cases the elders or opinion leaders get involved and if it gets out of hand the case is reported to police and if they can’t handle then it becomes a court case.
In Sauti Ya Wanawake where I am currently, I see a more organized way of handling Gender Based Violence. Almost everyone is involved.
GBV is an everyday happening such that it requires active participation of everyone. The communities, civil society organizations, the county government, the judiciary, police and health sector, education sector etc.
Sauti Ya Wanawake has about 37 chapters spread in the coastal region and they are key in all GBV cases. Sauti has also incorporated male champions, who are trying to convince other males on the disadvantages of GBV and how they can promote the women in their communities be it girl child education to stopping child marriages.
They also have GBV networking groups in the communities this checks on how cases are handled. If there is any foul play by the police, the judiciary or even influential people in the communities they involve the media.
They attach members to schools to help teachers on GBV cases in schools and help in formation of child right clubs where children are trained on their basic rights and can be able to say no to any form of violence.
The gist of most GBV is a result of poverty. Sauti women help uplift each other by getting involved in activities that can give them some income. They train each other on some economic skills and also help raise money to help widows amongst them to start income generating activities to support their families.
Through the effort of Sauti, some hospitals have started operating on weekends and yet it wasn’t like that in the past. This is because some sexual offenses occur during the weekend and the victim can’t stay like that without washing for long because in rape, sodomy, defilement or incest cases, the victims have to show evidence without washing.
Through the effort of Sauti Chapters, reception centres are being opened to receive victims for counselling so that they can also be far away from the perpetrators.
On Gender Based Violence issue, Sauti Ya Wanawake is a well-known name in the Coast Region and I’m happy to be one of the mentors of this great organization. This is not an exhaustive detail though.
Apart from Sauti my Organization Blaze Uganda Community development foundation is in the process of name change to ACRE meaning Acre Community Resource Empowerment. Acre in our understanding is looking beyond our own efforts by tapping from the wider community which is a resource in itself. All we need is to empower the communities to achieve better and showcase results in all sphere of life. Be it Education, Agriculture, Health and so on we all need the communities to work with.
My women back home are doing well in organic soap making and body jelly which I’m very proud of. We are into Agriculture too and also making tie and dyes.
When a woman is empowered, she can empower others and the trend goes on and on. Am empowered woman is an asset to her family, the community she lives in and the broader economy at large.
Just a brief to my first article.
NB: I’m working with Sauti Ya Wanawake (This means VOICE of the WOMEN) as a consultant for 1 year, to mentor and capacity build them.