Monday, 24 October 2016

Divide and Conquer!

It’s been a busy week for WOSAG, with community entries, visits from various organisations, and to begin with, on Monday, we had our guided learning session. This week’s was on domestic violence. As this is one of the areas our work focuses on, we felt it was important and relevant to lead a session on it, so we are all aware of what it involves. We discussed the different types of abuse that exist, not just physical but emotional, psychological, verbal, economic, and we looked at different case studies.

In the afternoon the group divided up to visit different organisations, as we had three organisations to work with. Liz and Juliana went to Days for Girls to speak to them about their reusable pads; Dave, Helen and Latif went to NORSAAC (a charity focusing on sexual and reproductive health, based in the Northern Region) to try and get sexual health manuals; and Alice and Mariama went to DOVVSU (Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit) for the third time. The manager wasn’t there, so we had to go back on Wednesday to speak to him. We arranged for two officers to come to our office to give us information about domestic violence and their work as a unit. They came on Thursday morning, and delivered information about what domestic violence is and on the situation in the Northern Region. They told us more about the challenges DOVVSU faces and the report of rape, defilement and assault cases. Their figures show an increase in the numbers of reports, which they believe to be due to their interventions and the work of organisations such as ours. Some of the challenges they face are:

-          - Financial challenges to cater for medical support to support their case
-         -  How to create a long lasting change in people's attitudes
-          - Women don’t report because they think it’s normal for a man to beat his wife
-          - Interference by chiefs and head teachers
-          - Under-reporting of marital rape
-          - Women won't report if they have to rely on their husbands for income and home
-          -  There are no safe places for victims
-          -  Family interference

They also spoke about what they do at DOVVSU. As well as investigating cases as a unit of the police service, they also carry out sensitisations, provide counselling for victims, escort victims to the hospital for medical examinations, and they try to work with the families so as not to tear families apart. It was a very informative session that we all benefited from, and we now feel better equipped going into the communities and talking about these issues.  

Following Liz and Juliana’s successful meeting with Days for Girls, Madam Roda, a representative for them, came to our office on Wednesday morning to speak to us all. They manufacture and distribute reusable pads. It was set up because they noticed it was hard for some girls to get pads and they would miss school during their period. This is trying to remove the stigma and teach the girls that it isn’t a bad thing and that they should feel proud of their period as it shows you are a woman. They also educate girls groups about menstruation, how to use the pads, and how to make them themselves – this is a cheaper alternative for them in the long-term. We decided to purchase 50 shields and 100 liners so we have enough to give to 25 girls in each community, which they can keep, show and educate other girls, and make their own if they wish.

A selection of shields and liners
Mariama holding one of the Days for Girls packs

One of these communities is Banvim, which we visited for the first time this week. We met with the women’s group and also went to the local school, to introduce ourselves as the new cohort. The women’s group were really happy to see us and were all seated in a circle under a tree before we got there. We gave the peer educators some condoms, informative photos of STIs and a penis model to use and educate the people in the community. It was a successful first visit. We also met with the headmistress and some of the teachers involved in peer education at the local school, to discuss our plans for this cohort. We will be going back next week to deliver peer education sessions, which we’re all looking forward to.

Latif speaking to one of the women
Mariama showing the images to some of the women

All in all a productive and exciting week for the team! 

The team with Banvim women's group

Written by Alice and Mariama

No comments:

Post a Comment