Gender-based violence (GBV) takes centre-stage in this project review, which draws on project activities for GBV prevention conducted by Sonke and MenEngage Africa’s partner organizations in Kenya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, namely the Men Engage Kenya Network (MenKen), the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC) and the Men’s Association for Gender Equality – Sierra Leone (MAGE-SL).
Gender-based violence remains a harsh reality in households across Africa.In Kenya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, despite numerous legal and institutional efforts by government, and considerable financial support from international development Agencies, there is still a great deal to be done in empowering women and promoting gender equality.
Gender-based violence tends to arise within a context of patriarchal cultural beliefs, attitudes, practices and expectations. They also take place within a larger framework of poverty and economic inequality between men and women. African women still have far less access to the economic resources that African men do.
Kenya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone are no exceptions. But what perhaps distinguishes Rwanda and Sierra Leone is their historical legacy of gender-based war violence and war crimes. In Sierra Leone more specifically, the gendered nature of the country’s 10-year civil war has since left its women even more vulnerable to gender-based violence.
While men and women alike fell victim to killing, maiming, torture and looting, women bore an even greater hardship on the basis of their gender, through acts of rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage and other traditionally non-sexual crimes committed in a sexual way. While it is true that the particular types of gender-based violence experienced by Sierra Leonean women during the civil war were, in many respects, extraordinary, they were nevertheless built upon pre- xisting patterns of gender-based violence and the marginalization of women across society.
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