From Community Leaders to School Pupils: Breaking the Cycle of Violence in Western Uganda

Across four countries, Prevention+ engages with men and boys, as well as women, to end gender-based violence (GBV). In Western Uganda, partner organisation Reproductive Health Uganda works with local communities towards our shared goal of violence-free societies.

Edith TuryasasirwaA key part of the programme’s way of working, is the simultaneous focus on individuals and their relationships, as well as ensuring institutions and governments take on policies and budgets to prevent GBV. This approach is paying off in Bushenyi, Western Uganda, according to Edith Turyasasirwa, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of the district.

Bringing the community together

“Gender-based violence is a cross-cutting issue in our district,” says Turyasasirwa. “As district leader, I make sure we provide support for eradicating GBV. I bring other partners onboard, such as council members, because without their support we can’t implement the activities. We also work with faith-based organisations, as they attract big gatherings and can spread messages of GBV prevention in their sermons.”

“We have achieved a lot in the first four years of Prevention+. Thanks to the programme we have been able to come up with a local action plan, which we can use to mobilise financial and HR support. It has helped us to reach more communities and to provide them with information on gender-based violence. There has also been capacity building for teachers, health workers, district staff and the police. Community members are now more aware of where they can go for support when they are victim of violence.”

After school clubs

Joseph and his sister18-year-old Joseph’s life changed after he joined one of Prevention+’s after school clubs. Geared with new knowledge and insights, he staged an intervention at home to address his father’s use of violence.

“I had the feeling that what we discussed at the club referred to my own household. I told my father the way he treated my mum and us children, was not good. When someone makes a mistake, you should not use violence to correct them.”

Joseph also asked his father to send his sisters to school, to which he initially did not respond well. “I said: I’m sorry, dad, if I annoyed you, but it would be the best thing to do. You have to treat girls as important people. I talked to my uncle who finally changed my dad’s mind. Later, my dad said that the club had opened up my mind and he wished I could also inform other people.”

Boys can do housework too

“All the housework was the work of the girls. As boys we only did the grazing of the animals. At the club they taught us that what a girl can do, boys can also do. One morning I woke up really early and mopped the house and washed the utensils. When my parents woke up, they asked my sisters: who did this? I told them it was me. They asked: where did you get this courage? And I answered I had learned it at the club. Now I can apply what I was taught. My parents were happy and thought I was very brave.”

“I would tell boys in similar situations to avoid peer groups that can lead to bad behaviour and being neglected by the parents. They should join the music dance and drama clubs, so they can get the knowledge to also talk to their parents. They can also go to the youth leader in their village if they need help. They can report bad behaviour and get help.”

Prevention+ is a five-year GVB prevention programme run by Rutgers, Promundo, Sonke Gender Justice and the MenEngage Alliance, in collaboration with partners in Uganda, Rwanda, Indonesia and the MENA region. Find out more here or watch this animation for a quick introduction to the programme’s work.

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