Swaziland: Community engagements for sustainable solutions in the fight against Gender-Based violence (GBV) and Femicide


Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA) continuous efforts are highlighting a new need to broaden community engagements and take the GBV issue to the hands of the people in communities. This is done to afford the communities a chance to talk about the issues openly, learn and help those among themselves who are affected.

The month of August saw a number of such events in strategic communities where over a hundred participants gathered in each community to discuss this issues. SRWA works with community organisers of the organisation who are trained concerning GBV and femicide. The chapter also engages with traditional leaders in communities since we aim to have many traditional leaders/councils as advocates of fighting GBV and femicide since they are the leaders in our community. So far, this has been met with success as some leaders have reported some cases that the organisation has worked on with sister organisations. Some have given great support to organising with the women groups.

Among the discussions within this session is defining what GBV and femicide is, what gender roles are, how to live as a community, the cycle of violence in relationships and how to help each other in case of abuse. Many within communities are expressing excitement as both males and females recognize the need to open up about these issues since they see how it affects families, women and children. The sessions were dominated by women but this has not made males less active since they talk freely. This is a positive shift in our people’s way of resolving issues given that we use to have the problem of ‘Tibi tendlu’ (family dirt), where issues were not discussed but considered sensitive and private by elders of the family and in most cases abuse is not reported to police and other stakeholders to help victims.

The extensive work done by women due to gender roles was also discussed at length. Women desperately felt like they are carrying the hardship that comes with nursing children, home chores and providing food for the entire family amongst other responsibilities. This causes women to be tired and sometimes unable to fulfil other responsibilities to their husbands, making them feel neglected thus cheating or attempting to use coercive means through many women.

These lessons are helping SRWA understand the root causes of GBV (which include land access) and sharpen her to devise strategies for the short, medium and long term needs of combating GBV and femicide. This has also helped in understanding how best to resolve issues, and limitations on institutions that are supposed to provide services such as the police. It shows how SRWA can train herself to be reliable and trusted within communities while growing the organisation to be a trusted defender of women and girl’s rights.

SRWA has amplified its call to government to declare GBV a national disaster. So far there are no signs of government commitment to the call despite the alarming cases of femicide and GBV and a strategy which claims that by 2022 GBV will be declared a national disaster.

Engagements such as this has seen the community working together to rise against the injustices against women and girls. One example is that on 20 August, SRWA participated in a community demonstration were a petition was delivered to a police official. This after the community lost a 10 year old girl and discovered that she was raped and murdered. Police didn’t act promptly and the community decided to go to police to call for more decisive action.

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