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Have Pity and Compassion

Using Theater, Debate and Film to Fight Violence Against Women and Promote Women's Land Rights

"Have Pity and Compassion" is working to address conflict within the family, including physical violence and economic conflict, which results from women's inability to own and manage property (land, house, animals, bank accounts, household expenditures, etc). National laws give women the right to own and manage property, but often widows have conflicts with their husband's families who come to take their son's property after death. Culture prevents women from having a voice in these matters within the family, in community decision-making and in seeking recourse.

This team of 19 local women works with couples in the rural community of Mutara District to counsel them on domestic violence and women's land rights using theater, debate and educational films to fight social norms that accept violence against women. By training a team of counselors to work directly with families, they seek to promote stronger relationships in which men respect their wives. The project will also form youth clubs, debate groups and widow executive committees to work within their communities.

Working in partnership with the National Women's Council, the members of Have Pity and Compassion personally visit households and provide training and follow-up support to both men and women about domestic violence and women's rights. Many families who get this personal attention show remarkable positive change after just a few visits. The team has selected sixty-two families who will receive direct and ongoing support in 2013. Widows who have received training from Have Pity and Compassion have been able to use it successfully to argue their own cases in court and receive or retain rights to their property.

Reaching broader audiences, 450 couples participated in an intensive two-day training on laws that prevent and punish gender based violence. From this group, 50 leaders have been selected to train additional people in their communities. The team members of Have Pity and Compassion have also successfully organized a lively public discussion about family law, the law of succession and family management, as well as a concert around the inspirational theme 'living in a community without violence'. The concert was attended by police officers, government officials, religious leaders and 1,200 members of the community. Recognizing that engaging the next generation is crucial to changing social attitudes, they have also trained a cohort of 80 young people in conflict resolution, and those youth are now able to act as advocates for others in their community whose rights are being violated.

The women of this team have become so well educated on matters of domestic violence, women's rights and the law, that they are now looked to as local experts and are approached and consulted for advice on a number of issues.

Project Details

Have Pity and Compassion

Grant Amount: $2600
Team Size: 19 Women
Social Impact: Estimated 1400+ People

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