WHAT IS DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL ABUSE?
‘Abuse’ is the mistreatment of someone. Sexual abuse is a forced act of a sexual nature on someone else while domestic abuse is one family member mistreating another within the home.
WHY IS DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL ABUSE DIFFICULT TO DISCUSS?
Many people are victims of sexual and domestic abuse. It can affect people of all genders, all around the world. However, the majority of survivors are women and they can find it difficult to talk about these experiences because there is often a stigma attached to being abused. This means that others can negatively judge the survivor.
RAISING AWARENESS CAN HAVE A POSTIVE IMPACT
In recent news, there have been three examples of women being encouraged to talk. The message is clear: that it is not shameful to do so and that raising awareness about abuse can help the survivor as well as their community.
‘BED OF THORNS’: A UGANDAN FILM ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The Ugandan film ‘Bed of Thorns’ was released in Kampala in March 2019 and this week, it won the African category at the London Arthouse Film Festival.
The film is about a woman called Stella who is in an abusive marriage. Many of her friends are in the same situation. The film has an all-female crew, including director Eleanor Nabwiso.
‘TOSIRIKA’ OR ‘DON’T BE QUIET’
The film was advertised alongside the hashtag ‘Tosirika’ which means ‘don’t keep quiet’. If you have experienced something similar to Stella, the women who made the film are encouraging you to speak out.
‘TALKING BOXES’ FOR KENYAN SCHOOLGIRLS
The girls from a school in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya are also being encouraged to speak out and not ‘keep quiet’. The United Nations has funded ‘talking boxes’, into which the schoolgirls can ‘post’ their personal problems written down on pieces of paper.
The main problems that the organisation want to address are those of domestic and sexual abuse.
TALKING ABOUT ABUSE IN THE COMMUNITY
Trained mentors are leading talks with the local community to deal with the issues raised on the pieces of paper. They speak to men and women so that everyone receives the message that abuse should not be tolerated. The United Nations hopes this will reduce instances of abuse.
GHANIAN JOURNALIST SHARES STORY OF SEXUAL ABUSE
This is the same message that Ghanian journalist Elizabeth Ohene gave to her Daily Graphic readers this week. She told the story of her sexual abuse aged 7.
She is now 74 and hopes that by sharing her experience she will help protect other vulnerable girls.
THE MORE PEOPLE TALK, THE SMALLER THE STIGMA
Ohene understands that abuse is an uncomfortable subject to discuss, not just in Ghana but worldwide. But she believes that if more people talk about it, it will become less of a taboo.
‘Bed of Thorns’ and the ‘talking boxes’ have the same goal: to remove the stigma from speaking out about domestic and sexual abuse. They also hope to educate people so that abuse becomes less common.