Religious leaders and youth urged to fight gender based violence

Since November 2018 GER is engaging religious leaders in conflict resolution and fighting gender based violence in promoting positive masculinity.

In the event that took place on 11th November 2018 in Kicukiro District, it brought together religious leaders, youth representatives and local leaders from three districts; Kicukiro, Gasabo and Bugesera. Innocent Musore, the Director of GER said that religious leaders are the core partners in the process of changing people’s mindset and building peace, “They are trustable in community, and they reach a big number of people, therefore they are strategic partners.” 

The participants had group discussions and illustrated different forms of gender based violence that are commonly seen particularly in their religious settings and society in general. Discussions revealed that young girls and women are the most victims of gender-based violence that is rooted in religious beliefs. They revealed that there is still a gender balance gap in religious leadership and positions. Silence and misinterpretation of violence has been also identified as a challenge in the process of fighting GBV.

One of the TearFund leaders (Christian based) MrsPeninah told the participants that the religions have a responsibility of fighting against GBV. “It’s sad that you find churches and mosques in every part of the country but still cases of conflicts, GBV and negative masculinity prevail in the society”.

Rev.Mukiza, representative of religions leaders in Kicukiro District, appreciated available opportunity in Rwanda where people come together and have a common understanding on available issues and responding to them despite having different faith and beliefs. “Muslims and Christians we are seated together to buildour society, variety in beliefs should not be the source of conflicts; It’s our responsibility to fight GBV. We have the power to raise awareness and influence attitudes and behavior change.”

During interactions and discussions participants mentioned that some religious leaders misinterpret some biblical versions. Others judge the GBV victims instead of supporting and helping them, they dismiss them in churches or mosque.

Rev. Bafana Khumalo,senior strategic advisor and the representative of Sonke for gender justice in his presentation said that being born male or female shouldn’t be a reason to be oppressed, to be deprived on some right, forced to submit to someone. He highlighted how GVB is more rampant in Africa than the rest of the world. With myths like: “Cooking is for females, men are the only decision maker in a family, and women should be submissive to men etc; you should fight GBV, reach out to console the victims, seek their justice, never cease to break the silence and teach to live a life of positive masculinity, people loves you, respect and listen to you so use that opportunity and change the society in a good way.”

 

Youth from different Religions that has participated the event and shared their stories.  

Youth shared their stories on how some became victims of GBV in their family where some parents complain for not having boys among their children, other still have understandings that boys are the one to inherits the family properties and for girls to have their share its require their intervention of authorities and law. Some husbands also cheat on their wives looking for boys. All of those have been identified as gender based violence and are sources of family conflict; young girls feel bad about gender discrimination among children and can cause conflicts between girls and boys.Youth also said how religious leaders interfere in their relationships where they find it as a taboo or a prohibition to marry someone from a different religion. they gave example of how it is big challenging for a Muslim to marry a Christian.

Participants recommended that GER should organize other training to engage more religious leaders and develop tools that will facilitate interactions and awareness rising. Youth also suggested that GER may organize a particular youth forum engaging them in the campaign to raise awareness and break the silence around GBV.

GER is committed to keep working with participants in sharing knowledge with many people and documenting positive changes that will help in raising advocacy to policy makers and stakeholders. We are calling up on everyone to support this program and give their contribution in fighting GBV in our society through community empowerment. Interested individuals or organizations should contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or browse our website www.globalr.org

 

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