Regardless how bad the situation gets, one partner will endure in the hope of saving an abusive relationship, changing their partner or the faith that ‘this will come to pass someday.’

Douglas Dubois Sebamala, an actor and public relations, media and marketing manager with Silent Voices Uganda has directly been affected by horrors connected to domestic violence! Twice.

“As a child who never spent the earlier years of life with my biological mother, she hid her plight of an abusive relationship from me. I saw and heard stories of women being battered, and vowed to address the issue whenever I had a platform to.”

Life was not done with Sebamala though; as a youth, he would struggle to get his sister out of an abusive relationship.
Thus, when the World Bank put out a call for essays addressing ways people can put an end to the scourge, he strongly felt this was the time for him to help other people’s sisters, mothers and friends.

Sebamala, 26 alongside Tendo Namata and Helda Mary Akongo were the three winners that were announced for the World Bank’s #Blog4Dev essay competition during a breakfast meet at Karveli Restaurant in Kampala late last month.
Themed, What will you do to end Gender Based Violence, the contest tasked competitors to write blogs expressing their understanding of domestic violence and different measures that can be taken to curb it.

In search of answers
Now in its third year, the #Blog4Dev series was initiated to inspire youth to think creatively, innovatively and practically about solving some of the most pressing development challenges in Africa.

It aims to give youth a voice and harness their ideas to ensure they become part of the solutions.

Much as most people think GBV only addresses a few men are known to be suffering domestic violence in silence.

For instance, according to a 2016 UNFPA report on GBV, between January 2014 and October 2016, 16,500 GBV cases were recorded with 81 per cent of survivors being women and 19 per cent being men.

And it was such highlights that influenced Akongo, 24, an Operations and Programmes Manager with Zimba Women, an organisation that uses technology to empower Ugandan women. She says victims should be encouraged to speak up regardless of gender. She believes that much as many of the victims are women, the small number of men should not be ignored; “their stories need to be heard too.”

In her blog, Namata, 26 and founder of Embimbo Gender based initiative in Kamwenge District noted that most interventions get it wrong by empowering a select group of girls and forget the communities; “this in turn makes it hard to create sustainable support structures,” she says, adding that since these rural areas for instance have water committees that keep water sources clean and safe, the same committes can be used as platforms to educate against gender based violence.

As a performer, Sebamala says he has seen people get transformed by art and thus cannot doubt its power to get a message across.

Power of art
“Art in all its forms, music, dance, theatre, film, poetry and paintings has a way of connecting with humanity’s conscience and critique the evil in society,” he says.

Sebamala says Ugandans will not read 80 pages of policy reforms on gender based violence by the government, but they will listen, appreciate and be affected by a song and movie.

Akongo takes a technology approach encouraging creation of awareness and support while educating the public about online and offline on gender based violence; “Technology can be used as an essential tool for combating this depravity, and it is precisely what I am setting out to do.”

The winners will join the Ugandan delegation to the 2018 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group taking place from April 13-22 in Washington DC.

The winners will join others from the rest of Africa in activities such as meeting key government and World Bank figures to share their ideas and stories.