November 25th was the start of a 16 day period, in which people were encouraged to wear Orange to show there support in eliminating gender-based violence. Since one of our competencies for our NGO is gender, we decided to hold an open discussion about gender based violence after one of our training sessions. We asked the participates to wear orange and white to support ending gender-based violence and to encouraging a conversation about gender violence.
Towards the start of the conversation we had participates bring great perspectives to the table. There was men saying that we should not be violent, but it should not stop there, we should also step-in and stop violence when we see it happening. The Facilitator asked the participates to raise their hands if they knew where to go or if they had someone that they could trust if violence ever happened to them. I was shocked that about only 1/4 of the class raised their hands. We then tried to talk about some of the places that can help with gender based violence naming some medical groups, some elders or spiritual leaders and some Queen Mothers (women leaders in power).
We were finishing up our final comments when one of the highly educated women spoke up and said well if we as women keep out mouths shut this will help to prevent the gender base violence. I think that all of the Canadians in the room were a little taken aback by this, luckily the facilitator in charge did a very good job handling the situation. She stressed that there is no context where violence is justified. This was a very tricky situation because you can not talk about the culture or the traditions you have to stick to the facts, that the UN pushes, which is that violence is never the answer.