‘My husband was arrested in January 1977; during his arrest I had a two-month-old baby. I asked my relatives to help me fight for my husband’s release but they refused, so I did the fighting alone and my husband was released. Since then, I have said no to male intimidation.’
Jamila Eton, a female clan leader ofEtongoro me OkweroKic clan in Bata sub-county, Dokolo district, narrates her experience in wiping away negative socio-cultural practices that violate women’s rights in her clan.
‘I am a victim of tweyolao, a practice in the Lango tradition where newly married women are required to walk naked before the male clan members and in-laws, as a way of initiating them into their husbands’ clan. This practice is so shameful and intimidating. I support culture, which is my identity, but not the negative socio-cultural practices. Before I joined the ACFODE project, I was already a clan leader but in a very low position. Despite my position and the fact that I was the only female clan leader among so many men, I individually advocated against the negative socio-cultural practices. Little did I know that there was an NGO shouting louder than I was. Under the umbrella of ACFODE I have been empowered to be more aggressive in wiping away negative cultural practices from my clan. I now speak with confidence and I freely open up on issues during clan meetings. I pursue women’s issues until they are agreed upon by other clan leaders. As a result of ACFODE empowering me through the project, I have been promoted from the lowest clan leadership position to almost the highest; I am also a treasurer in the office of the Rwot – our King.
Because of ACFODE training, I have strongly advocated against the tweyolaopractice. My husband is very supportive of what I do for women in my clan and both I and my husband are role models. We are also a model couple that encourages families to accept change in culture. I call myself ‘an ambassador against bad culture’. If FGM advocates could succeed with their advocacy, then I will also succeed. I will fight on against all bad socio-cultural practices that violate women. Thank you ACFODE for inspiring and strengthening me.’