The rates of Domestic Violence in Uganda are exceptionally high. Statistics for Uganda show that 1 in 3 women in the country are abused by their partners. It is also recorded that about 70% of married women experience some form of domestic violence. Many of these women remain silent and do not report the crime to the police.
The reason being, that many in the communities support the violent behaviour. This is especially true if the women fails in certain household duties such as not looking after the children properly or if they fail to cook a proper meal. The government does have laws in place against domestic violence, but much of the time it is not enforced. Even though reports come in of rape and violence there are few convictions.
“Abuse is NOT Love. Abuse is about Control.” – Domestic Abuse Survivor
Now imagine men dressed in uniform marching down the street with babies strapped to their backs and balancing water jars as well as firewood on their heads. Some officers holding boards with phrases like, ‘Peace in the home’ or ‘Stop Violence against Women and Girls in Uganda’. People who are going about their day to day activities, stop to look, wondering what is going on!
This is what happened when brave officers from the Uganda Police Force showed up to show their support against Domestic Violence. Many are surprised by these acts, as the police have not exactly acted in a way that inspires confidence in them over the years. But as with many things, there are those who act poorly and those who wish to uphold the law and do their job properly. There was a similar event that occurred in December of 2015, when police officers also marched carrying balloons and wearing white ribbons in aid of bringing the issue of domestic violence to light.
There has been an increase over the years in the violence against women; this could be due to more women reporting cases. But whatever the reason authorities find the increase disturbing, which is why they are have participated in this initiative. They want to help bring awareness nationally as well as internationally to the problem of Domestic Violence. Hopefully change is coming for those affected by domestic violence in Uganda.
The problem of Domestic Violence was brought to light even more by one of the politicians within the Ugandan Government. He made statements that clearly suggest that it is okay to beat your wife, and he made his viewpoint on national television. The officers who participated in the marches clearly want to show their support, and show the people that they do not share in these attitudes. They want to stop the violence and murders of women in their communities.
Many are supporting them and praising their efforts towards this initiative. This support is seen on many of the social media platforms. Thankfully the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, stands with them against domestic violence. He is encouraging the men in Uganda to stop beating and abusing their wives. This type of display of support shows a commitment on the part of authorities to confront and prevent any form of violence against women.
This is hopefully the beginning of a movement towards more tolerance of all groups of people and a firm stance against abuse on all levels.
Domestic Violence can come in many forms, not only physical. Many women are subjected to sexual, emotional, verbal abuse. South Africa also has a problem and is considered to have high rates of domestic violence. Every day women are subjected to physical assault, sexual and verbal abuse. If you feel you are being put in danger or are being abused in any way, there are organisations out there that can offer assistance and support.
I was a resident at the Safe House four years ago. When Charlene contacted me and ask if I want to apply for the position I said I will send my CV because I want to be part of the the good work they do.
What is the best part of the work you do?
To encourage the women to get out of the abusive relationship.
What is the biggest change you would like to see in the women you work with every day?
I would like to see them motivated to change their way of life and to be happy.
What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
To not look back and to be stuck in the past. I have to always look to Jesus.
What are your hobbies?
I love to do beading and love being at the beach.
Name three things that’s on your Safe House wish list.
To have a big vehicle for the Safe House because the residents and staff needs transportation.
To have more volunteers at the Safe House.
To have new kitchen cabinets.
Safe House Stellenbosch is a shelter for abuse women and their children. If you would like to get involved please do not hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org / DonateVolunteer
Nobody wants to get up every morning and dread going to work. Not because of the work, but because you feel you are being harassed by co-workers or even the boss. Unacceptable behaviour at work can eventually lead to not meeting your work responsibilities. Overall, working in an unpleasant or even hostile environment will create a decrease in productivity, reduced confidence and even absenteeism.
In many cases it is difficult determine if your co-worker is just being really annoying or are they stepping over the line and being completely inappropriate. In all cases, if the conditions created are affecting your ability to do your job, this is a hostile work atmosphere.
If at any time you are feeling uncomfortable with your boss or co-workers, this is a problem.
Even if the problem may seem small, like a dirty joke, you as an employee should not have to just grin and accept this kind of conduct. It happens that sometimes management might even bribe you with gifts, knowing that they have done something wrong.
If talking to the coworker who is harassing you is not working, then the best route to take would be to go to a trusted manager or supervisor. Hopefully the problem can then lead to some positive changes. Obviously if this does not work, the next step could mean legal intervention. All of this can be very difficult. It can have an emotional and financial effect; it may even affect your professional image.
If you let it go and ignore the behaviour, even if you leave the company, can you ever forget about it?
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” Martin Luther King, Jr.
You matter! The more people speak out, the higher the chances that there will be change.
All the members of a company from the Managing Director to the tea lady should be made aware of what behaviour to look for, if it does happen.
Sexual harassment is not the only problem in the workplace. Other actions can be considered as harassment. These can be things concerning race, religion, age or gender. It can be anything that ultimately hinders the employees work productivity and success, actions that create an unpleasant work environment. Many companies today offer training and talks about harassment in the workplace.
Here are some guidelines as to what you should consider as harassment.
Here are a few examples of what is considered non-sexual harassment
Making derogatory remarks concerning a co-workers age, race, gender and religious beliefs
Constantly shouting at and making criticizing remarks in front of co-workers
If a co-worker makes rude or lewd jokes
When a coworker shares inappropriate emails, images or videos
Tampering with a person’s personal belongings or their work equipment
Spreading gossip or malicious rumours around that is not true
Basically this includes any kind of comment, behaviour or action that is offensive, discriminates, and is insulting or intimidating.
Sexual harassment is not limited to tasteless advances; it includes any physical or verbal actions that cause an unpleasant working environment.
“It’s not a compliment, it’s harassment”
If a person makes sexual comments of appearance
Inappropriate touching or grabbing
Sharing of suggestive images or videos
Asking a lot of questions about your sexual life or orientation
Constant unwelcome and suggestive advances, this includes e-mails and letters or notes
Any kind of sexual gesture or sexually suggestive sounds such as whistling
Inappropriate name calling such as slut
This is only a short list of the types of harassment, the list could go on. The fact is that it does happen and in many different forms. Once you understand what constitutes as harassment in the workplace, you can take the next step to help improve your work environment.
How would you know if somebody you work with or even a friend is being abused? What should you look out for and how would you go about helping them?
Many times colleagues can be the ones to identify the signs of abuse as they have a different view of the other person’s life; they may even spot the signs more easily than somebody who is closer.
In both cases it is important to reach out to the person you think is being abused. You might be the only one who actually does something. Try and approach the individual in a non-judgmental and caring way. Sometimes just listening to a person can be extremely helpful. If it is a colleague at work you may want to consider raising the issue with the company’s human resources department.
Often people think of abuse as something physical, but it encompasses a lot more than this one thing. Abuse happens to both women and men, young and old. Many don’t speak about it, but it can even happen between family members, an adult child who is abusive towards their parents.
There are actually a few different types of ways that abuse can manifest:
The physical and sexual abuse
Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse
Exerting control and coercion over another person
Economic / financial abuse, which can fall under control. This is where the abuser limits the resources available, forcing the victim to rely on them for finances.
The following signs displayed by the victim might indicate that abuse is occurring:
The person may start to wear clothing that they didn’t before, to cover up their bodies. Or have injuries that don’t quite match up with their explanation.
The abused person may withdraw from all social activities, cancel plans or make excuses for not attending meetings.
You may even be a witness to the abuse, where the abuser belittles and verbally assaults the person.
If your friend or colleague asks you to keep certain normal things secret, afraid of what their abuser might say or do.
If your work colleague’s work performance starts to suffer, poor concentration, handing in inconsistent or incomplete work and making a significant amount of errors.
Some abusers may even visit the partner at work, causing unpleasant scenes
If the spouse or abuser asks you questions about their partners whereabouts and activities
If the abused person is very reluctant to leave work
Signs of anxiety, not eating properly or becoming very jumpy and significantly less confident
The abused person may show signs in their body language – bent shoulders, doesn’t look anybody in the eye, avoiding conversations and choosing to sit alone.
“You can recognise survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.” Jeanne Mcelvaney
What can you do about the abuse for a friend or colleague?
As mentioned before, offer your help and try to talk to your friend or colleague about it. If they do decide to talk, just listen. Try to provide information where they can get help; be careful if you give advice, sometimes your opinion might not be the best way. Offer your support more and show them your concern, let them know you’re there for them.
Some other ways to help:
It may come to a point where reporting the problem to authorities is the best option. Talking to management in a company or going to the police.
Gather information on how you can offer help and where to get help if you need it
Offer a safe place for them to come if they need to get away from their abuser
Call Lifeline for 24 hour support and telephone counselling: 011 422 4242 OR 0861 322 322
Here are some more important organisations you can contact for help.
The hashtag #MeToo is giving people a platform to speak out on sexual harassment and assault in the wake of several allegations made against Harvey Weinstein. However, it was not only women who shared their experiences, men also took part in the powerful social media campaign. That is why I am heartened to see so many men responding #MeToo. I believe, an extremely brave display of both vulnerability and solidarity with women who have suffered in silence for far too long.
In our patriarchal culture, men’s and boy’s self-expression is extremely limited. They are not allowed to express fear; they are not allowed to express pain; they are not allowed to express vulnerability.
‘Boys don’t cry’ and other damaging conventions we are teaching our sons
All parents have the privilege of bringing up the next generation of boys and girls; it is often a difficult and challenging endeavour, but ultimately the most rewarding. Many parents read books or get advice from their parents about how they should bring up their kids. Can some of this advice from generations past, have a negative influence? Are there damaging conventions we are teaching our sons? Many children are taught from a very young age what to think, feel and do in various situations.
‘Boys don’t cry’
Many boys from a very young age are taught to ‘man up’ or are told to stop crying. Some may disagree, but this can be extremely harmful to the child, preventing them from expressing their natural emotional reactions. That in some way by not showing any emotion, you are preserving your masculinity.
By pushing down or ignoring emotions and embracing the typical male stereotype of a ‘strong male’ could be affecting the mind and body, putting themselves at risk for certain mental, social and health conditions. Boys too have emotions; they too require empathy and encouragement so that they are able to deal with situations positively and constructively. By telling a boy not to cry or show vulnerability, you are negatively affecting his understanding and the need for relationship. This could result in isolation, which could produce anxiety and depression, later on in life.
Sadly, these man rules, even apply with sexual abuse. As a result, males tend to keep their sexual abuse secret and living in denial about what happened. So instead of talking about their trauma, they take it to the grave or delay disclosure, often for years on end. The man rules tell us that guys are not allowed to be abused, and if they are abused, they are not allowed to admit it, and if they do admit it, they can expect to encounter no empathy and no support.
Boys need the comfort of their parents (not just their mothers, but also fathers) just as much as girls do. The home should be a safe place where there is emotional freedom and not a place where a person is shamed for showing their feelings. Bottling up all the emotion can later manifest in other forms of expression, including anger, violence and even substance abuse. Teaching people at a young age about emotional development and allowing them to express themselves naturally is important.
When Oprah Winfrey took the stage at the 75th Golden Globes to accept the Cecil B. DeMille award, she delivered an inspiring, powerful speech about the importance of speaking out against harassment and assault.
The Time’s Up’s mission statement includes several answers to the question of “What You Can Do”:
Check out our #KnowYourRights campaign and see what you can do as a survivor of sexual harassment and abuse.
Are there other damaging conventions about boys out there?
“Boys will be Boys”
Boys are active and boisterous and in some cases this statement is true, but sometimes the phrase is used to make excuses for the child’s bad behaviour. An example would be:
Hitting or pushing another child
Being destructive and breaking things
This type of behaviour should not just be ignored.
When boys hit girls, it means they like them
No form of hitting, hurting or even teasing somebody to gain their attention, is acceptable behaviour. In no way, is this how you show somebody that you like them. This is a selfish way to gain attention as they put their own desire for attention before the feelings of the person they are hurting.
You should never ask for help
Boys, who become men and have been brought up with strong masculinity principles, find it a lot more difficult to ask for help. It might just be stubbornness in some that don’t ask for help, but others may see it as a weakness.
Should Boys be in the kitchen?
Gender stereotyping is deeply ingrained into our society. Many still see cooking or cleaning the house as a woman’s job. But with the increase of both parents having to work, household responsibilities should be shared equally. Boys should be taught from a young age that their responsibilities include changing diapers as well as work. Knowing how to cook and to sew a button is not a bad thing, it’s just a skill you can learn to help you be more independent.
Teaching boys at a young age and building up their emotional intelligence, can help the child grow up to lead a happier and balanced life. There have been studies that actually prove that people who are more in touch with their emotions can form stronger and closer bonds with people. This in turn helps them to become emotionally and physically healthier. These skills should be learned at home, but if this is not possible there should be more empowerment programmes and role models available to help them become the men they want to be.
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think Margaret Mead”
Could you assist us with any of the following please? We need these items for the daily running of our shelter.
Email: Charlene – email@example.com
We also need milk, coffee, creamer, tea, cool drinks, cereal, , peanut butter, jam, sugar, salt, pepper, loaves of bread, and pasta. We can also accept some quantities of perishable goods such as polonies, viennas, cheese and eggs are items we could use as well.
Cleaning needs include bleach, laundry & dish detergent, soap, window cleaner, trash bags, food storage bags and containers, brooms, mops, dust pans, dish rags and towels.
Office needs include copy paper, envelopes, postage stamps, file folders, sheet covers, and computer items such as memory cards, flash drives, highlighters, pens, pencils, paper clips, rubber bands and tape.
More and more qualified youths are looking for jobs but have no luck finding any because of their lack of confidence or experience, or because they do not know where to find the right business opportunities.
The Safe House is in need to of businesses to help our unskilled residents a career kick-start by helping them present themselves better and achieve their goals.
Being informed is the key to success, so skilled volunteers need to share practical advice about employment; lifestyle and fashion tips for the young person who has just started working or is looking for a job.
The volunteers must share practical information on internships, learnerships, bursaries, apprenticeships and small-business programmes and events organised by government departments and agencies, companies and corporate foundations.
You’ll also find features about the work lives of young people from different industries, to illustrate how they overcame obstacles in their own lives to pursue their dreams.
Work and learn from a skilled professional
If you are truly inspired to teach your skills to unskilled women, why not apply to become an Skills training Volunteer Apprentice?
We can can only accept volunteers willing to commit to at least 1 month of full time involvement.
Suitable candidates will be trained in the art of Urban Harvesting via first hand experience, and then excellent candidates will be offered the opportunity to grow the Urban Harvest brand nationwide.
Send me a message to tell me why you are a suitable Urban Harvest Volunteer Apprentice; firstname.lastname@example.org