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Say no to violence

October 2nd marks International Day Against Violence, celebrated on this day specifically to honour the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

The General Assembly resolution of June 15 2007, set the day to "disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness". The resolution reaffirms "the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence" and the desire "to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence."

As coronavirus is sending our economies and countries into havoc and as we inch toward potentially the most critical election of our recent history – with ongoing police violence against Black Americans and a US president who refuses to commit to a peaceful transition while dog whistling to a far-right hate group to "stand back and stand by", violence the world over is on the rise.

It seems that for many of us who have yet to live through world wars, this year has been one of the most violent; one of the most tumultuous of our times.

It's important that on this day we remember that the principle of non-violence rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change.

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The good

violence prevention programmes in schools help!

Often times the very thought of tackling violence, which disproportionately impacts low and middle-income countries at 90 per cent, is too monumental to comprehend. Where do you start? Proven and promising violence prevention strategies focused on individuals include, pre-school enrichment programmes in the very early childhood for 3 to 5-year olds, life skills training and social development programmes for children aged 6 to 18-years-old, and assisting high-risk adolescents and young adults to complete schooling and pursue higher education and passionate careers.

And focusing on an individual's education and purpose in life is not the only strategy that has been proven to help. Promoting nurturing and positive relationships within the family have been proven to lower violence drastically. This is done by training parents on child development, non-violent discipline and problem-solving skills. By teaching parents to equip their children with the tools they need to face the oftentimes harsh realities and also supporting the parents themselves, such efforts have been shown to lower the risk of a youth or sometimes a child, choosing a path of violence.

The bad

Domestic violence is on the rise...

Each year, 1.4 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. For every person who dies as a result of violence, many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. Violence places a massive burden on national economies, costing countries billions of US dollars each year in health care, law enforcement and lost productivity.

And there is one type of violence that has seen a huge spike during the coronavirus crises the world over: domestic violence. In many cases, it has been due to lockdown policies imposed by nations, forcing many individuals to be closed inside with their abusers.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the situation for women appears to be particularly dire. According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, almost one in every two women in Bosnia experiences violence, and under five per cent of them report it. What’s more is that the subject remains taboo in the country, and is seldom discussed openly, which leads to a widespread culture of complacency.

United Women Banja Luka is a Bosnia and Herzegovina-based non-profit organisation supporting women suffering from domestic abuse and working to abolish the culture of violence against women in the country. Find out below how you can support United Women and help stem domestic violence in the country.


End Domestic Abuse in Bosnia and Herzegovina

by Yair Oded

United Women Banja Luka is a Bosnia and Herzegovina-based NGO working to protect and support women victims of domestic violence and abuse.
child soldier

Child recruitment in Colombia worsened by the pandemic

by Ellen Nemitz

Lockdown measures were useful to slow down the virus' transmission, at the same time it created a hunger contingent.

Racist terrorism by any other name...

by Gurmeet Singh

A black man was deliberately hit with a car in an act of racist violence. What else should we call it but 'terrorism'?
domestic violence

Domestic violence: The shadow pandemic being fanned by Coronavirus

by Bob Koigi

While domestic and sexual violence is a daily reality for majority of women and girls globally, it is now spiking to epidemic proportions.
Country focus
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Situated on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina neighbours Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and is almost completely landlocked, despite running miles away from the coast.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of the Eastern bloc of Yugoslavia and is still in many ways recovering from a deadly three-year war that broke out following the collapse of the bloc in the early 1990s. While it is an independent country, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be partially under the oversight of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which set up two separate entities - the Bosniak-Croat Federation and Bosnian-Serb Republic, both overarched by a federal government and rotating presidency. This has created a great divide between the Serbian and Croatian Bosnians.

This divide is reflected in the press, which operates relatively freely and under the safety of freedom of reporting and speech.