men and boys to adopt peaceful and nonviolent means for resolving conflicts in their lives,” Aseko says.
The organization implemented the project in four subcounties in two districts – Ibuje and Akokoro in Apac district and Loro and Kamdini in Oyam district – from January to December 2012. The organization selected these areas based on the high rates of domestic violence in each, Aseko says.
Action for Development trained 60 community members, dubbed community agents of change, on human rights, women’s rights, gender-based violence and conflict resolution. The unpaid, volunteer agents include clan leaders, women’s group leaders, religious leaders and local councilmen.
“These community agents of change are respected in their communities, and their work will be valued by the people,” Aseko says.
Andrew Ssekirevu, a volunteer for Action for Development, says that the main goal is to decrease violence.
“The community agents of change are to integrate conflict resolution in their work and also own the projects,” he says. “There is great need to reduce violence in the communities.”
Aseko says that one of the greatest needs is reducing gender-based violence in particular.
“Violence is specifically targeted against a person because of his or her gender, and it affects women disproportionately,” Aseko says. “It includes, but is not limited to, physical, sexual and psychological harm, including intimidation, suffering, coercion, and/or deprivation of liberty within the family or within the general community.”
Once educated on the subject, most community agents of change agreed that violence occurs in both the public and private spheres, Aseko says.
Eunice Alabo, a community agent of change, says that gender-based violence is widespread.
“Such violence not only occurs in the family and in the general community,” she says, “but is sometimes also perpetuated by the state through policies or the actions of agents of the state such as the police, military or immigration authorities.”
Gender-based violence happens in all societies and across all social classes, says Moses Abole, another community agent of change. He says women are particularly at risk to suffer violence from men they know.
Oleny Okello, a community agent of change in Oyam district, says he found that extramarital affairs were one of the major causes of violence in homes.
“When the wife confronts the husband, he becomes aggressive, and then fighting begins in the home,” Okello says. “In some cases, the woman also begins to have an affair.”
Community members were also concerned about alcoholism among the men and leaders in the area, which can contribute to violence.
Betty Ejang, a community agent of change in the Kamdini subcounty of the Oyam district, says that one woman complained to the local clan leaders that her husband used to sell food from their garden, spend the money on alcohol, return home drunk, and verbally abuse her and their children. Once, their fight escalated to a physical altercation. His wife broke his leg.
“I went and counseled him, and he promised to stop drinking,” Ejang says. “But he continued