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An Intrinsic Look at the Forum on Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

Evidence suggests that gender-based violence is a widely prevalent in Sri Lanka. A plethora of factors influence and trigger gender-based violence such as alcoholism, incest, family conflict, assault, sexual abuse, and poverty, among others. Women and adolescent girls are shown to have the highest risk of experiencing GBV, for instance, one out of four females experiencing sexual abuse by the time they reach 18 years.

In the aftermath of the tsunami in 2005, women were more vulnerable to various types of abuses creating a need to assemble a platform to strengthen the response to the rising incidences of GBV.

UNFPA has been a leading advocate within the forum and has actively chaired and coordinated activities since its birth to support advocacy, leadership, and empowerment on emerging GBV issues.

 

What's the forum all about?

The Forum against Gender Based Violence was setup in August 2005 following a consultation with selected agencies in order to facilitate greater coordination, understanding, and sharing of resources to strengthen a multi-sectoral response to GBV.

Nearly ten years later, it has now reached an important stage where the membership is planning to review the current structure to transform the forum to its next stage.

When asked about the nature of the forum, here's what some of the members had to say:

"It is an advocacy forum to influence policy and ensure that it's implemented. We are sitting here together to hold the state accountable (on some level) in whatever way we can" - Kumudini from Women and Media Collective

"While individual organizations existed on the topic of GBV prior to the tsunami, a collective group of people coming together to advocate for GBV issues only never existed" - Vindhya from Care

"This is a really good forum as it has a broad-based representation including local NGOs, international NGOs, UN agencies, donor agencies, and government bodies such as the National Committee on Women under the Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs"- Vindhya

"This forum is unique since you have organizations, whose mandates main focus isn't necessarily gender issues coming together on a common topic" - Nirosha from UNFPA

 

Why revive the Forum?       

"We need input from grassroots organizations, and other silent networks that operate to prevent GBV in their regions, who aren't aware of the forum. Many of these organizations can't find the means to connect their ideas to the forum, we need to find and make these connections and also collect and disseminate information" - Dr. Kottegode from Women and Media Collective

"We need to identify issues on a district level by taking a multi-level approach driven by the needs of the grassroots level organizations" - Cyrene from Oxfam

Additionally, Dr. Wijejayatilake from the University of Peradeniya said that the revised forum would need to take into consideration that fact that "The discourse tends to be very colombo-centric and english centric" and improve on this factor.

Dr. Hemamala from UNICEF also mentioned that the new forum needs to "offer solutions and see what works and doesn't work before progressing".

 

Where to from here?

While previously facilitation was seen as the role of the forum, the members have decided that they now they want to move more towards implementation and activist movements.

The forum will be conducting another 2 day workshop at the end of the month where they will get together to finalize the last of the redefining process and move onto to discuss the work plan and other important issues.