NOVEMBER 25, 2009: Men Fight Against Domestic Violence in Uganda

Men Fight Against Domestic Violence in Uganda

SOURCE: United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)

It is a few hours past sundown when a young girl's cry pierces through the silent night. Returning from the market, the 10-year-old has stumbled across the body of her mother, lying bleeding to death on the ground. Samson Musana, the girl's father, has hacked his wife to death. He accused her of selling his bicycle and mattress.

It is a shocking story but it is just one of the thousands of domestic violence cases that occur every year in Uganda.

Changing Attitudes

Thirty-two-year-old Peter Mutebi, from Kawempe neighbourhood in Uganda's capital Kampala, was brought up to believe that women were inferior to men. As a child he frequently saw the women in his home beaten and abused. Later, after he married, Peter joined the fight against domestic violence.

"I was brought up believing I am superior to women. I witnessed women in my family being abused and I carried this into my married life. However, when I joined the Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention as a volunteer in 2003, my perception changed," says Peter.

The Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP), which is supported by DFID funding, helps to promote gender equality throughout Peter's local area. It sends volunteers into communities to change attitudes among men and youths around women's rights and domestic violence. The volunteers also encourage women to speak out and seek support if they are being abused.

As Peter testifies, the efforts of the volunteers are not always welcomed.

"At the beginning it was difficult," he says. "My friends rejected me, saying I have become a 'woman'. Others said I have betrayed my fellow men. I lost friends."

Raising Awareness

But, unwilling to bow to peer pressure and give up, Peter persevered, continuing to organise awareness-raising campaigns within his community.

"We target men and youths by organising football tournaments, film shows and omweso (a Ugandan boardgame) matches which we know will draw a crowd. It is then that we bring up the subject of domestic violence."

This approach has paid off. Today, Peter is a respected member of his community, the first port of call whenever cases of domestic violence come up in Kawempe…

For the full story, please see: