This week I was asked why we are marking 16 days of activism against gender based violence as opposed to doing it 365 days of the year. The man who asked this was right, gender based violence does, sadly, occur every day of the year, but, as I said to him, what we want is maximum exposure to be able to focus peoples minds on this issue.
Too many women suffer domestic violence for a number of reasons that I have spoken about before .
Domestic violence does not just involve physical abuse. It is also psychological and completely erodes the self worth of victims.
This afternoon I have been watching a documentary produced by a group of women from Samfya , Zambia who were able, with the help of training from Camfed, to tell the story of women in their community that had suffered abuse. I was so inspired by the courage of these film makers and the women who featured in the documentary that I had to share it with you.
If you are prompted for a password please use hiddentruth .
Hidden Truth 2 from Camfed on Vimeo.
Wasn't it particularly pertinent to see Beatrice, the teacher, say she was ashamed because she thought that as someone who was educated it shouldn't be happening to her. Domestic violence can affect anyone!
Since the documentary was made the Zambian government have implemented anti gender based violence legislation which should hopefully lead to a higher conviction rate.Women will not now have to prove that they have been abused by showing an open wound, as was the case when gender based violence was covered by the law on assault.
The documentary may have been filmed in Zambia but the reasons that underpin domestic violence and the experiences of these women are sadly universal. We were lucky to be able to chat to two of the women involved in producing the documentary during a webinar organised by the World Wide Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Mwelwa and Penelope told us how much of a struggle it was to get women to break the silence and agree to speak on camera, but they also told us about the rewards.The film has been screened in their local community and across Zambia and they say the response has been overwhelming. Women have realised that they are not alone and men have been educated as to the rights of their partners.
The greatest change that they called for is a cultural one. In order for women to be able to speak out they need to feel that they would have the support of their communities and those in authority.