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Combating violence against women with drama

According to the Global Fund, war and militarism have a profound impact on women inside and outside of conflict situa­tions. Sexual violence, intimidation and wife battery are just a few of the problems that women all over the world have to live with almost on a daily basis.

Imanzi GBV

Ndangamuco Imanzi Cooperative in action at Mwogo Market place. (photo Kenneth Agutamba)

Conflict resolution and peace building experts agree that the fam­ily is a key element in the process of peace building because it is the nucleus of the state responsible for shaping citizens.

“The powerful influence of par­ents will dictate how the child is shaped because children are born into families and this is where the first lessons of life begin. The envi­ronment within the home will im­pact the character formation of the child as their values and morals are learnt at a very early stage of life,” says Fortuna Anthony, author of a paper “The role of family in build­ing peace.”

Cody Scott, a former notorious criminal leader in the Caribbean, attests to this assertion, having fa­mously confessed that “if he had had a proper family he would never have turned out to be the violent man that he grew up to become.”

As for Rwanda, the situation is not different. The country’s past conflicts were hatched and master­minded in families by family mem­bers against members of other fami­lies based on the tribal division. In the Genocide, the family as an insti­tution was hugely abused.

Many stakeholders in the govern­ment and civil society have since gone to work employing all known peace building methods to reconcile former enemies and build a new har­monious society based on new val­ues and morals.

One such NGO is the Internation­al Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), an organization whose main objective is empowering the youth in cultivating peace and reconciliation in their communities through their Youth for Change program (Y4C).

And whereas the country is peace­ful after 17 years, there are numerous ways in which violent conflicts are rife in communities, one of the main ones being domestic violence fueled by land and other property disputes mostly by men against women.

Squandering money

In this context, IREX works with youth groups such as Ndangamuco Imanzi Cooperative in Bugesera district in addressing violent trends that might be a threat to peace but also to build reconciliation among community members.

Imanzi cooperative is a group composed of eleven male and twelve female youth who in 2008 started to perform plays drawn from real life experience depicting, through dance and drama, domes­tic violence mostly against women in homes.

The group performs the plays at trading centres and social events, as was the case on a recent Friday at Mwogo Market place in Bugesera.

In the play, the husband sells the family’s piece of land on which they also have a banana plantation, their only source of livelihood, with­out the wife’s knowledge. He then squanders the money on booze and young girls only to return home with empty pockets and an empty stomach, angrily demanding food from his wife.

“There’s no food because you did not leave any money, where is the money you got for our land?” she asked, only to be shouted at and beaten. The violence attracts a neigh­bor, the one who bought the couple’s land, and the wife quickly finds out the plot was sold for peanuts. In the end, hunger sobers up the husband who for the first time in the play listens to his wife, and then kneels down in shame to ask for pardon.

There is a happy ending, though, when the neighbor decides to give back the land and advises the hus­band to always involve his family when making decisions that affect them, and to respect his wife.

During the play, the crowd is clearly engaged with women specta­tors taunting the man vociferously while the men look on in discomfi­ture caused by one of their own.

“That play says exactly what is going on in our homes,” says one woman. “Our husbands disregard us yet we are the pillars of our fami­lies and when we raise our voices we get beaten.”

Samuel Bukuru, the group’s presi­dent, says their plays are inspired by what they observe in their commu­nity. According to Eugene Gatari of IREX Rwanda, Ndangamuco Imanzi cooperative is one of 10 groups that are receiving a small grant of US$ 2,400 each from the organization to facilitate them in peace building ac­tivities in five sectors of Bugesera District through dance and drama.

“We support them because their activities in helping resolve domes­tic violence is within IREX’s/Y4C objective of empowering the youth in cultivating peace and reconcilia­tion in communities,” Gatari says.

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Posted by on Feb 20 2012. Filed under National, Woman. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment for “Combating violence against women with drama”

  1. Yeah, this is what I was saying…I like the way u write these feature articles.

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