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Women and conflict in northern Mali: Oxfam supports communities to end the cycle of violence

November 26th, 2013 Posted in English, Mali
Caption   : By holding public awareness-raising sessions Oxfam gives women the opportunity to have their voices heard.

By holding public awareness-raising sessions Oxfam gives women the opportunity to have their voices heard.

The Mali is going through the worst crisis it has ever seen in 50 years. The armed conflict in northern Mali has led to the displacement of about 500,000 people – mostly women and children – inside and outside the national borders.

Taking control of important towns in northern Mali by armed groups has created a climate of terror. Confronted with a situation of widespread violence, direct or indirect victims of serious human rights violations and mass exodus, populations, especially women have experienced shocking situations and have often been the victims of various forms of violence and abuse such as forced marriages, gang rape, verbal abuse, assault, sexual abuse and excess, kidnapping…

In Gao, a town in northern Mali, many women and girls aged 12 to 45 were victims of sexual violence by armed men.

According to Hapsatou Maiga, housewife living in the neighborhood of Chateau “Many women have experienced the worst forms of terrorist violence under the occupation, many of my sisters were gang-raped and victims of forced marriages”.

Currently, like all other towns in northern Mali, Gao is being rebuilt. But the effects of t(he armed conflict are still very palpable especially among women, who are now facing the challenge of survival often exposing them to prostitution and other forms of abuse.

In the urban district of Gao, particularly in neighborhoods of Aljanabandja, Sossokoira and Chateau, Oxfam conducts awareness on gender-based violence to help girls and women victims of violence to regain control of their lives and also to prevent possible cases of abuse.

“We noticed a positive impact about awareness-raising activities on gender-based violence among target populations and even among women and the NGOs that took part to these activities,” claimsHaja Moulaye Protection and Gender project assistant at Oxfam in Gao who says further that “violence is a fact known by some, experienced by others while others ran the risk without realizing it”.

The program, implemented through the financial support of SIDA, have reached at its term hundreds of girls, women, boys and men by neighborhood. The impact and assimilation of the activity on the field with the targets were felt with the level of enthusiasm of the participants.

For Aminata, a young woman resident of Gao “The approach used by Oxfam, theater, helped in a fun way to make a critical review of their living conditions and thus to be made aware and informed with respect to the potential for violence in this situation and know how to address”.

Through this program, Oxfam wants to contribute to a deep and lasting change to end violence against women, but also and especially to contribute to the well-being of this layer of Gao community still vulnerable.

 

 

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