The Anglican Primate of Burundi, Archbishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho, has led hundreds of people on a march through Makamba in a protest against gender-based violence (GBV). The march took place during the international annual 16 Days of Activism, which concluded on Monday – international Human Rights Day. The march was one of a number of activities that took place in Burundi during the 16 Days to raise awareness of the harmful consequences of GBV and take the courage to denounce them”, the provincial Communications Officer, Guy Nasasagare, told the Anglican Communion News Service.
“Activities were organised in different dioceses, such as Gitega, Matana and Makamba, where people from diverse backgrounds and religious denominations and of all kinds came together to protest the violence suffered by women and girls”, he said.
Speaking about the march on Burundi National Television, Archbishop Martin said: “We are all concerned and we want to call on everyone to say no to violence against women, to denounce the perpetrators and to plead for the victims to receive appropriate assistance and above all that their dignity be preserved.”
One of the male participants of the march said that women had been subjected to violence by their partners because they had engaged in initiatives like adult literacy and savings and credit groups; but the women persevered and changed attitudes through the added income they contributed to the households.
“The determination of our wives and their contribution to the development of our families has completely transformed us because we realised that they were worth much more than our acts of abuse against them”, he said. “They are now buying clothes, they have started activities that generate income when we used to consider ourselves the only ones to be able to meet the needs of the family. We then decided to join them in the associations and we are happy today.”
Some of the development initiatives the man spoke about were devised and run by the Mothers’ Union. Local government officials say that women’s empowerment programs initiated by the Mothers’ Union “have significantly reduced domestic violence as a result of changing living conditions in households, where women have become true artisans”, Guy Nasasagare said.
The provincial co-ordinator for the campaign against GBV, Jeanne Françoise Ndimubakunzi, welcomed the involvement of religious leaders in the eradication of this violence, but said that there was still a long way to go. “We need to work hand-in-hand especially since we are all concerned, it is also our duty to extend our hands to these women and girls in distress because of the violence suffered”, she said.