SOPISDEW exploits GBV Preventive Methods, Crisis Management in Armed Conflict Zones.

Violence Against women and girls a neglected reality; SOPISDEW exploits ways of prevention and management in crisis hit NW and SW Regions

Violence against women and girls is a hidden global crisis which knows no boundaries of geography or culture. The limited evidence on the extent and nature of VAWG in conflict and humanitarian contexts has been a key barrier to investment in VAWG programming in emergencies and building the evidence base is a priority for SOPISDEW and partners. However, there is existing evidence which indicates that VAWG in emergencies is more prevalent than currently acknowledged, and has a life-threatening impact on women and girls.

There is growing evidence on what works to prevent violence against women, based on well-designed evaluations. In 2019, WHO and UN Women with endorsement from 12 other UN and bilateral agencies published RESPECT women – a framework for preventing violence against women. The key concepts include Relationship skills strengthening; Empowerment of women; Services ensured; Poverty reduced; Enabling environments (schools, work places, public spaces) created; Child and adolescent abuse prevented; and Transformed attitudes, beliefs and norms.

Physical and sexual violence against women and girls has risen in the North West and South West region of Cameroon due to an on-going crisis. COVID-19 is adding to the existing situation with the number of cases of domestic violence steadily on the rise. Formal structures intervening on the prevention and management of domestic violence against women and girls have been disrupted and the situation is worsened by physical restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 emergency. Community Based Organizations like The Society for the Promotion of Initiatives in Sustainable Development and Welfare (SOPISDEW) have shifted their interventions to a community based approach which is dependent on very limited resources and often involves the management of complex situations.

SOPISDEW is currently supporting vulnerable women and girls through both preventive and community based case management services targeting physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and economic abuse while serving as part of the referral pathway including feedback and complaints mechanisms put in place by the Protection Cluster led by UN OCHA. Key interventions include preventive activities involving the development and dissemination of outreach and communication materials on domestic violence through Community Radio and other local organizations of the GBV network.

SOPISDEW staff at a strategic meeting on prevention and management of GBV

According to Kemey Daniel Mbuntum, head of the Social Works Program, SOPISDEW’s community based case management system involves the use of community social workers and peer educators to offer Emergency Psychosocial First Aid to victims and referring them for appropriate action. He further reiterates that community peer educators who are mostly former victims and survivors are best placed to assist in interventions. The program has reached out directly to over 200 cases in Mezam and Bui Divisions of the North West Region of Cameroon and is presently scaling up to many other conflict-affected communities.

Talking to the Executive Director of SOPISDEW, Mr Tah Kennette Konsum about future plans to adapt the prevention and management of domestic violence interventions against women and girls, he reiterated that they are capitalizing on new community based mechanisms identified such as benefitting from traditional laws, media and technology. This will be realised through the development and expansion of community capacity and local best practises for local context specific interventions; a system based on lessons learnt due to the present humanitarian context in various communities.

Mr Tah Kennette Konsum,

Executive Director of SOPISDEW

A Senior Legal/Protection Officer with SOPISDEW, Mrs Tata Charity Yenlan further raised arguments about the very central need to counter domestic violence against women and girls. According to her ‘’when domestic violence prevails in a home, children suffer greatly, and this is one of the reasons we have children living in the streets’’. The programme is also intended to address one of the root causes of child streetism through advocacy and collaboration.

SOPISDEW’s Programs Manager Ms Sakghe Mildred elaborated on the key activities which have been previewed to achieve greater impact. They include working with couples to improve communication and relationship skills; community mobilization interventions to change unequal gender norms; school clubs that challenge gender stereotypes and promote relationships based on equality and consent; and group-based participatory education with women and men to generate critical reflections about unequal gender power relationships.

Sakghe Mildred,

SOPISDEW’s Programs Manager

On the use of local networks, SOPISDEW plans to expand a grassroots prevention system involving the use of community social workers and peer educators (mostly survivors and former victims). The peer educators and social workers will mostly intervene through community education at informal women’s meetings, churches, mosques, schools, hospitals. SOPISDEW will liaise with these communities to expand temporal safe spaces for women and girls where they can share their experiences in preventing domestic violence. Direct beneficiaries will include 12 conflict-affected urban and rural communities in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. The wider community will indirectly benefit through production and dissemination of audio-visual contents through the Cameroon Community Media Network (CCMN); a network of over 25 community radios and TV stations in both regions, including other regions. The needs of vulnerable groups (IDPs, specifically women and girls, people with disabilities and indigenous minority groups such as the Fulani Mbororo) will also be met.

SOPISDEW team members exploiting ways to prevent VAWG

Founded as a volunteering organization, SOPISDEW’s mission is to work with local people by leveraging on their knowledge and skills so they can achieve a sustainable lifestyle for peace and posterity. SOPISDEW has a combined experience of over 8 years working with vulnerable communities by leveraging on good community practises.

By Ndefru Melanie

Pics and Info hint: Insider237


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