The Kariba FM Radio Trust in Siavonga District, Zambia, has joined the movement against gender-based violence (GBV). The radio station is situated in Siavonga, 200km south of Lusaka, an isolated rural town with high levels of HIV/AIDS and violence. The community is heavily embedded in patriarchal beliefs and over the years there has been an increase in violence on women and girls.
The recent case of a twelve year old girl who was abused by a member of the clergy is one case that was brought to light, but many more still go unreported because of the secrecy surrounding issues of sexuality and traditions. Just like in many other parts of Zambia, men and boys have been identified as the main perpetrators of gender-based violence.
Recently, the radio station conducted sensitisation programmes to encourage the community to use the radio as a platform to address issues affecting them, including HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence. According to some villagers with whom Kariba FM Radio Trust interacted during the sensitisation, gender-based violence was identified as a factor that limits women and girl’s participation in community activities as they suffer intimidation from men and boys.
“The situation of girls and women is becoming more dangerous as cases of defilement and wife battering are becoming worse each passing day,” said one of the participants.
Kariba FM Radio Trust will add to the campaign against violence by using local music and culturally acceptable initiatives to capture the attention of men and boys as allies in the campaign. During the International Women’s Day celebration, Kariba FM Radio Trust’s female presenters invited women’s groups and local bands to use the radio as an opportunity to air messages condemning violence against women in villages. The process of male socialisation has to be revisited through a process of involving men and boys in initiatives that solely target them and are culturally acceptable. The community feels that the time has come for men to challenge their behaviour and speak out against abuse on women and girls.
The radio programmes in this campaign will highlight non-violent men and boys as role models and will build the capacity of men in the community as agents for change. The campaign will also establish Men’s Radio Networks of trained men who will speak out to influence behaviour change in the community using the radio.
The campaign will engage traditional leaders as advocates against gender-based violence. They will also be trained to use the radio as a tool for social transformation. During special events like the Sixteen Days of Activism opposing Violence against Women and Children, Human Rights Day and annual traditional ceremonies, special radio programmes will be dedicated to the cause of women and girls. Chiefs will be given the honour to speak to their subjects in villages to condemn barbaric acts against women.
There is enthusiasm and interest in the community to sensitise other men, challenging their socialisation and how they perceive women. Thus Kariba FM Radio seeks to involve influential men whose voices and participation would bring the campaign into the limelight. The Men’s Radio Networks will use the advantage that radio provides to reach men and spread the message that gender-based violence is a violation of women’s rights.
By Nelson Banda