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Preventing Domestic Violence
Ancille Nzigiyimana, Burundi HROC participant
Interviewed by Florence Ntakarutimana, HROC program manager, Burundi.

I am married and have six children, four girls and two boys. I live in Kiyange internally displaced persons camp. I want to tell you first that I saw HROC as my doctor. I had a lot of trauma because of domestic violence that I experienced at home from my husband. He left me after we had six children together and married a second wife. He used to beat me for no reason and I had to be the one to find food and everything my children and I needed in life. It was hard and I hated life. When I took part in a HROC workshop, I experienced healing. The lesson on managing anger especially helped me to think about how to deal with domestic violence like I had experienced.

After being trained with many women in HROC and forming the Peace and Democracy groups, we said that there will never be peace and democracy when women are mistreated, especially in this region of Imbo where polygamy is common. During the dry season, we harvest rice and earn a lot of money. But instead of taking care of their children and their wives, it becomes instead an opportunity for our men to marry “second offices” (second wives) and drink a lot of beer. Come and see the houses we live in. It is horrible.

As we kept meeting in the Peace and Democracy Groups, we decided to work together to stop this pattern peacefully.When there is a man who mistreats his wife, we go in a group to talk to and advise him. We also talk to the wife as sometimes she is the one who is behaving badly. We tell them that if this continues, it will affect the children and they will grow up with trauma. This is why many young people here indulge in alcoholism, rape and banditry.

Recently, Caritas, a woman living near me was in a conflict with her husband. He beat her badly. She had scars everwhere on her body. He chased her out of their home and told her, “You are no longer worthy to be my wife.” Her children were also being beaten like cows. Because the lady knew our role in the community, she sent her child to call me. After much dicussion and many visits they came to an agreement, a great one. I even suggested a business they could start to improve their lives. Now they live well in peace and are thankful to me.