28 November 2011

Uganda: 16 Days of Activism Against Violence

Photo: Edward Echwalu
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As we mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we appeal to everyone to participate in promoting "Peace in the Home by Challenging Militarism and Ending Violence against Women"- in line with this year's global theme.

The 16 Days of Activism is an international campaign set aside by the United Nations to create awareness about gender-based violence and taking action to end violation of rights in homes. In Uganda, various organisations are organising activities to create positive change through preventing violence against women.

The Catholic Church has, together with TrÃ'caire, an Irish NGO, and the Embassy of Ireland, launched a National Advent Campaign against domestic violence and to promote peace in families. It is significant that this programme coincides with the beginning of Advent- a special time of preparation leading up to Christmas that started yesterday.

Through this programme, Prayer Cards for Peace will be availed in all churches countrywide to be used by families to pray for peace. Fighting domestic violence must start with behavioural change and no institution is better placed to pass this message than the Church.

The Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention in Kampala has also released a schedule for activities that seek to involve communities to participate in this noble campaign. It is therefore important that we utilise the 16 days campaign meaningfully by focusing on the core issues and finding practical ways of preventing domestic violence.

Even with relevant laws in place, the nature of violence in homes is sometimes so complex that violence against women remains rampant and many women are not empowered to take action. Laws alone cannot effectively be used because victims are often too afraid to speak out. That is why campaigns involving behavioural change must be taken to communities and should be sustained.

This campaign could not have come at a better time. Every November 25 to December 10, the world commemorates the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The 16 Days are especially significant because it runs from November 25- International Day against Violence against Women, to December 10- International Human Rights Day. These days are representative of the violation of women's rights through violence. Let's join the campaign.

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