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Campaign Against Gender Violence in Timor-Leste!

MAF in Timor Leste has the opportunity to fly members from the Nabilan Program, to the opening event of their 16-day campaign against gender violence.

For sixteen days from the 25th of November until the 10th of December 2019, Dili (the capital of Timor-Leste) and other major towns in Timor-Leste have been bathed in orange, for the “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!” campaign. This campaign aims to eradicate gender based violence in Timor-Leste.

Anna Yang, Team Leader with the Nabilan Program explains the need for this campaign. “Timor-Leste has one of the highest rates of violence against women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region. During their lifetime, 58.8% of ever-been-partnered women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from their intimate partner. Among all women aged 15 to 49, 14 percent have been raped by someone other than an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 10 percent in the past 12 months.”

As an introduction to the 16 Day Campaign, MAF Timor-Leste was asked to fly staff involved with the Nabilan Program to the Same airstrip, in the Manufahi region of Timor-Leste. The passengers from The Asia Foundation, the Australian Embassy and Casa Vida were headed to the south of the island to attend an event on Saturday, the 23rd of November. Pilot Jason Job flew the group there early in the morning and then back to Dili later that afternoon.

The Nabilan Program is an eight year partnership between the governments of Australia and Timor-Leste to end violence against women and children. Nabilan is implemented by The Asia Foundation in collaboration with Timor-Leste’s Ministry for Social Solidarity and Inclusion (MSSI) and Secretariat of State for Equality and Inclusion (SEII).

“We used the MAF flight to attend the opening of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which was held in Faturburlihu, Manufahi. The opening event was organised by the Timor-Leste Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion (SEII). More than a hundred people from the community and the Timor-Leste government attended the ceremony, including the Vice-President of the National Parliament, the Municipal Police Commander and the Manufahi Municipal Administrator.

Using the MAF aircraft allows the Nabilan team to be responsive to the needs of the community in Manufahi. It means that we can travel at short-notice and take day-long trips, otherwise impossible by car. The MAF flight with Pilot Jason was a memorable and smooth experience. We saw amazing landscape, very brown at this time, the height of the dry season, and he avoided threatening clouds which made the whole trip very pleasant!” said Anna Yang.

The 16 Day Campaign has included information sessions, rallies, marches through the streets of Dili and social media campaigns. Sujana Ximenes was another passenger on this flight. She is the Director of Casa Vida, an organisation that helps women and children who are the victims of domestic violence. Casa Vida offers temporary homes, employment training and counselling for these vulnerable people. She explains:

“Violence against women and children occurs on an alarming scale in all countries of the world, including Timor-Leste. The 16-day campaign is a way to continually remind people to recognize and understand that violence happens too frequently. Many people in Timor see violence as a normal reaction. People do not understand that violence poisons and damages other people, paralysing their futures and their dreams.

This 16 day campaign will help to show people that violence is like a monster, a virus or a poison. It can end someone's life and life is precious. Violence against women and children can be prevented but awareness of it is the first step.

I work with victims of violence every day. It is not an easy task. But it is precious to see that people’s lives can change. Women and children can be transformed when they begin to view themselves as valuable and to have hope about their future. Understanding that the violence they suffered was not their fault is an important part of this healing.

Acts of violence can harm and even destroy lives. That is why the 16 day campaign of education and awareness is important to try and prevent these violent acts in the future. At Casa Vida we believe that each life is a precious and beautiful work of art which is why we need to stop this violence now.”

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