Celebrating the 16 days of activism- 2016

16 Days Activism Campaign on No Violence against Women is an annual awareness raising campaign observed globally. The purpose of the campaign is to address policy and legal issues; as well as campaign for the protection of survivors of violence and to call for the elimination of all forms of gender based violence. various communication platforms were used on the days. Platforms such as Intersection, Door to Door, street dialogues

It is estimated that 35% of women and girls worldwide have experienced gender-based violence (GBV). GBV is a social and human rights problem that is rooted in social inequalities among men and women. It is a problem that occurs in all parts of the globe, and while GBV has gained more attention over the years, it remains inadequate.

Pupils from Al-Macruf Primary School poses for picture before the beginning of the sessions

Figure 1: Pupils from Al-Macruf Primary School poses for picture before the beginning of the sessions

Gender-based violence covers child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence, early child marriage, violence in schools, female genital mutilation/cutting, forced labor and more. Roughly 70 million women have been married before the age of 18, and 120 million have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point. Even with an alarmingly high number of women and girls suffering different forms of violence every day, fewer than 40% ever report it.

This year, NoFYL is participating in 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence under the campaign’s theme, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All.” As we all know that education is one of the most effective ways to end GBV and is committed to helping make public spaces, schools and homes safe for all women and girls worldwide!

Community Focus Group Discussion with Women on Gender Based Violence- 25th November.

To commemorate International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25th of November NoFYL launched the campaign through conducting community focus group discussions which aimed to more understanding of challenges that women and girls face in relation of SGBV.  Methodologically, 4 focus group discussions were organized with 20 adult women in 3 different groups to identify the forms of GBV, role of communities to prevent violence, reasons and results of GBV in the IDP settlements. The discussions had been set-up with women only to make attendances feel comfortable and to talk freely.

Most women in the discussions identified challenges that displaced women would face on SGBV. Some of attendances have emphasized that challenges and problems for them is being exposed to physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as exploitation especially during evictions and when they are moving into new camps. These challenges could distress them in general.

The most of violence forms identified were within the family. They identified that with the rise in intimate partner violence marriage decision should be taken carefully with consultations of girls. Education of especially girls should be given a priority and marriage should never be a reason for girls dropping out of school.

Lack of education, depriving women’s rights, social norms, economic conditions were given by women as a risk factor. When women or girls are exposed to abuse, their fear from family and community would prevent them from speaking out and this compromise their safety and security.  In case of violence women are encouraged to come forward and report incidents to get services, incidents happening in schools against girls should be reported, awareness program should be tailored in a way that encourages and enhances the health seeking behaviors of our communities. All participants requested organizations to contribute to empowering women in terms of developing their skills and their coping mechanisms during crisis.

Group Counseling Session on free health opportunities for IDPs in Deynille District camps.

NoFYL community health workers, within the scope of 16 days of activism campaign, has conducted sessions on available health services for refugees and returnees targeting women, boys and girls. During the session subjects of right to health in national and international law, available health opportunities for IDPs were explained to the beneficiaries. The service mapping and referral pathways available were shared with IDPs and contact details of different agencies distributed to support and strengthen referral networks.

Raising Awareness Sessions- World Aid Day, December 1.

Jointly together with previously trained community dialogue facilitators NoFYL conducted community conversations on GBV and HIV prevention and response during the World Aids day. Raising people’s awareness and knowledge about some topics could lead to changing behaviors as seen from the dialogue sessions which were previously conducted. Therefore, during the 16 days of activism campaign community health workers conducted several community conversations jointly with dialogue facilitators on the subjects of understanding of gender-roles in the communities, effects of child marriages on accessing to education, effects of child labor on accessing to education, importance of hygiene at temporary education centers.

International Human Rights Day – 10th of December.

To mark the end of the global 16 Days of Activism on International Human Rights Day on 10th of December, IOM and NoFYL organized an event where school going children share creative songs, poems and pictures.  This year marks the major milestones for NoFYL in curbing GBV in Somali society especially in education sector.

The activity targeted Returnees, IDPs, Refugees and Disabled children. A school awareness session campaign against SGBV was also held. Participants were given a platform to share experiences and discuss community strategies to prevent and protect against SGBV targeting teachers, students and families.

The event was held at Al -Macruf School where there was competition of songs, dance and poetry between pupils from IDP camps in Mogadishu. The chief guest was a spokesperson from Ministry of gender and women affairs.

 

 

Gender Based Violence (GBV) and child abuses are the serious problems in Somalia. The cases of Rapes and other sexual assaults are still prevalent in IDP camps in Mogadishu. These includes; female genital mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriages; domestic violence (including domestic sexual violence), physical abuse and rape.

The violations can be directed to women and children. In Somalia, human rights violations may be extreme due to the increased insecurity, weak rule of law, lack of humanitarian access, and frequent natural hazards.

Campaign schedule had been developed based upon consultations with members of the GBVWG members and demands and needs of beneficiaries determined thorough conducted community focus group discussions and decisions of Women and youth groups.

Conclusion

The 16 Days Campaign ended on December 10 – Human Rights Day- but our collective work to end gender-based violence around the world is throughout the year. Gaps to knowledge of people on GBV issues is high and prevention strategies should be strengthened and health seeking behaviors among women and girls improved.

As prevention strategies of NoFYL on the protection of GBV issues, NoFYL has been continuing its GBV activities in Mogadishu and Gedo through its Community outreach programs since May 2014. On the other hand, ensuring women access to free reproductive health, raising their awareness and promoting women’s dignity will enhance women’s health and protection. Therefore, on the year of 2017, NoFYL will be scaling its prevention and response activities in Elwak district of Gedo region. Prevention from gender-based violence will be ensured through empowering of women and raising awareness of communities. Consequently, the increasing number of women and girl’s safe spaces will ensure to prevent GBV issues as a key strategy for the protection and empowerment of women and girls affected by the conflict and drought.

Organizations working in protection programs have to strengthen the collaboration among each other by producing resources and materials to reinforce advocacy efforts to achieve more peaceful world for women and girls free of gender-based violence.

In Mogadishu NoFYL act as the focal point for information exchange between the agencies involved, spearheads efforts to strengthen the capacity of government authorities and other civil societies and coordinates joint implementation initiatives among agencies.

These initiatives are aimed at building synergies among agencies and promoting efficient utilization of resources by avoiding duplication of efforts. So far The GBV Working Group has established a joint GBV strategy and conducted an GBV baseline in Mogadishu while the Protection Return and Monitoring Network has spearheaded efforts in collecting and Monitoring and Reporting grave violations against children in both Gedo and Mogadishu. NoFYL also spearheaded a joint service mapping exercise on GBV/child protection service providers in Banadir Region.

Rape Culture in Conflicts: A Heirloom?

Throughout history, sexual violence has been tragically prevalent in armed conflict, and often viewed as an unavoidable consequence of warfare. Its preponderance in armed conflict is dismaying. Sexual violence is a conspicuous phenomenon and a common thread in conflict dating back centuries. They are tangled. And it was tacitly accepted as unavoidable. Conflicts often exacerbate and escalate sexual violence. It is organized. It is endemic. It is barbaric. It is vertigo-inducing. It is a pestilence that bedevils the conflicts for donkey’s years. It is a menace that has that has continued to challenge the conscience of humanity – especially in our times. Sexual violence has been documented in long-simmering armed conflicts including those in Bosnia (former Yugoslavia), Peru, Bangladesh, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Somalia and Syria. Despite widespread international attention and condemnation, sexual violence in armed conflict remains pervasive and the task to root it out has become more onerous and pronged.

While the history of wars and conflicts is replete with massive and systematic incidents of sexual violence against vulnerable girls and women, modern-day wars have witnessed large-scale indiscriminate deployment of rape as a ‘weapon’ of war by warring factions. Both the factions visit unconscionable levels of grisly violations upon civilians. They target civilians in a brainless spiral of violence that only ends up making the lives of civilians much more miserable than it already is.

Sexual violence persists as a devastating phenomenon with damaging and detrimental consequences for victims as well as their families and whole communities. It is not confined to African or European conflicts, or to conflicts in developing or developed nations, but is a Global scourge. Additionally, such violations remain vastly under-reported, and underestimated in terms of prevalence and consequences. The humanitarian response to the diverse needs of victims remains insufficient.

Girls and women are often the targets for sexual violence in armed conflict when rape and other forms of sexual abuse and assault are used as deliberate strategies of war. According to UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict, the vast majority of casualties in today’s wars are among civilians, mostly women and children. Sexual violence in conflict situations is as much a terrifying crime as a brutal one, wherever it takes place; it has direct and indirect effects on human lives, leaving deep, indelible scars on the victims as well as society itself. Sexual violence permeates the everyday lives of women in conflict. It is inherently humiliating. It is a quintessential violation of individual autonomy that removes an individual’s control over their body. The humiliation are particularly deep-seated.

Despite the fact that it is so widespread, sexual violence has been vastly under reported and the victims have suffered in silence. Because of the shame and the stigma involved, many victims have chosen to remain mum and the atrocities meted out on them are cloaked in silence. The few that are brave enough to come forward are branded as liars. There are cases of women in various countries, who have been forced to marry their abusers (including soldiers) to save them and their families from shame. Women survivors are ostracized from their families and communities, making them more isolated and vulnerable to further abuse.  Yet of extreme concern, the perpetrators remain at large.

There are many reasons for sexual violence in conflict. Rape committed during conflict is often intended to terrorize civilians and subdue communities. For humiliation. Sometimes it’s used to glean information about rival groups to retaliate or exert power. It can also be used as a perk for soldiers to motivate them and as an inducement to courage on the battlefield. It erodes the fabric of a community in a way that few weapons can. As they say, rape is an incredibly effective- and cheaper weapon. Cheaper than bullets, and more destructive in many cases. Rape, and the threat to use it against women is one of the most potent and systematic tools employed to terrify civilians.

Many women who become pregnant as a consequence of rape may attempt to induce abortion, often at great risk to their own health. Women who conceive as a result of rape may not seek pre- or ante-natal care, and children they deliver are often neglected, abused, stigmatized, ostracized or even killed.

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Let’s collectively condemn the sexual violence. We must stop stigmatizing victims and must make their rights and safety the main priority. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, on the rapist and the cultures that endorse it. Let’s not just fight it, let’s also fight the conniving mendacity that allows cruelty to reign. It is a despicable system that only thrives because people are silent about it. Education alone isn’t enough to stop rape in conflicts. That requires society as a whole to condemn and the international community to act.

 
 
 
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