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Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK


World: Africa

African women march against violence

African women face violence as part of their daily lives

A new campaign has been launched in Africa to try to address the problem of violence against women and girls. East Africa correspondent Cathy Jenkins reports on the launch, which took place in Nairobi:


[ image: East Africa correspondent Kathy Jenkins]
East Africa correspondent Kathy Jenkins
The campaign has been organised by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, supported by human-rights and women's groups.

In a message, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said it was time that governments and organisations moved from words to action.

Women's groups marched through Nairobi's city centre to the sound of a wind band to signal the opening of the year-long campaign.

One of the aims of the campaign is to raise public awareness, and the march was a way of doing it.

At the launch, held in the National Theatre, a packed auditorium heard government officials pledge their support and promise action.

This was welcomed by women's representatives, who nevertheless said that the pressure for change would still have to come from them.

There was spontaneous applause for speakers who said that the police had to be sensitized so that women felt able to go forward and report violence, and that the courts had to show that it was worthwhile pursuing a case.

The campaign has been launched on Pan-African Women's Day, and it is to go on across the continent for a year.

It wants to begin to change attitudes as well as influence government policies - a difficult task in countries where violence against women is often accepted and endured because of tradition.

The organiser of one women's group which helps battered women in Nairobi described how until now it had been a struggle to explain to women, as well as men, why wife-beating was wrong.



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