SGBV Project: CBF Helps Prevent Spread of HIV

ARLPI Community Based Facilitator Helps Prevent Spread of HIV
By Wade Snowdon
November 19th, 2009
AMURU, NORTHERN UGANDA-You have come to kill us”, were the jeers from the crowd as they surrounded 24 year old Alice with the intent of lynching her. The woman had been accused of defiling a 14yr old boy and sleeping with 6 of his married brothers. It was also suspected that she was HIV positive.

As the situation continued to escalate out of control, The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative’s (ARLPI) Community Based Facilitator (CBF), an individual responsible to provide greater access to information and services in response to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) was called to help resolve the issue.

In an effort to prevent the use of violence, the CBF informed the police and Sub-County Chairman and immediately removed Alice from the situation where she gave details about what led to the situation. Upon discovering what had happened, the CBF took both Alice and the boy to be tested for HIV where it was determined that indeed Alice was positive.

While it was too soon after exposure to accurately determine the boys’ status, the CBF explained that it would be very important for him to take PEP, a drug commonly used to prevent the transmission of HIV which must be taken within 72 hours after exposure to the virus.

Sadly for the last three months the health centre had been out of stock of the drug putting the boy at great risk. However, the CBF called War Child Holland for help and was referred to War Child Canada where he was able to obtain the drug.

Referring to the fact that many married men in the community, including the defiled boy’s brothers admitted to having relations with the woman, George Ochan, ARLPI’s Project Officer who is overseeing the project said, “I think this should open our eyes to segregate other negative gender practices such as the normalization of extra-marital affairs among men. This case shows how dangerous it is.” Despite the fact that the other brothers were already married and admitted to committing adultery, the community had placed full blame on the woman.
The implementation of CBF’s services is just one of the many activities the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) is doing as a partner implementing a 2 year CARE International project entitled ‘Multisectorial Approach to Ending Sexual & Gender Based Violence in Northern Uganda.’ The project seeks to holistically mitigate SGBV through numerous prevention and response activities.
One of the greatest benefits of having Community Based Facilitators is that they provide communities with greater access to information and services. They are sensitizing people that SGBV affects everyone negatively and that there are other alternatives to solving conflicts rather than resorting to violence. In this case, the CBF was not only able to prevent the death of the woman, but also prevented the boy from becoming infected with HIV,” said Stella Atolo an ARLPI Sub-County Coordinator who is one of the people responsible for overseeing the work of the project.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence has been on the increase in northern Uganda and presents itself through negative cultural practices, rape, defilement, psychological abuse, and domestic violence, among others.
While the project has been implemented throughout the sub-Acholi region, ARLPI is currently carrying out the project in the sub-counties of Koch Goma, Lamogi, and Alero.

1 Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.