Resource Library

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Powerful Persuasion: Combating traditional practices that violate human rights

Participants of a workshopTrokosi, in Ghana, is a system of servitude that meets the community need for justice and the material and sexual needs of fetish priests. Customary or traditional practices based on deep-seated beliefs, such as Trokosi, are often the more difficult human rights violations to eradicate.  Trokosi is when women and young girls are brought and kept in fetish shrines to atone for sins or crimes allegedly committed by one of their relatives. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) recognized that legislation outlawing such practices may not be effective and may, in some cases, result in driving a customary practice further underground.

I'll Walk Beside You: Providing emotional support for testifiers at the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission

People testifiying at the truth and reconciliation commissionThe South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) developed the concept of “briefers” to install a victim-friendly process. Victims were provided with the opportunity to testify and be supported before, during and after the process. The TRC selected briefers—chosen from the caring professions, such as ministers, social workers and nurses—from the community to provide this support. The briefers acted as volunteers and were trained to perform various tasks with regard to the entire structural process of the TRC.

Creating a long-term public forum where the police and ordinary citizens can work together to resolve human rights grievances and other issues affecting police/community relations

The CLEEN Foundation, formally the Centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria, hosts public forums where citizens and police can discuss concerns and grievances regarding crime and police conduct.

Communities and police forces can find themselves in an unproductive cycle of distrust. Community members are concerned about police misconduct, brutality, and corruption. The police, in turn, can see the community as hostile and uncooperative in their investigations.

Complementary Strengths: Western Psychology and Traditional Healing

Someone performing a dramatizationRebuilding Hope saw the need for an integrated healing process that would allow families and communities to accept child soldiers from Mozambique back into their lives.  Acknowledging that traditional healers are often the first people community members approach when they need help, Rebuilding Hope psychologists approached the healers as well as other community leaders to be project partners.

A Mock Tribunal to Advance Change: The National Tribunal on Violence Against Women in Nigeria

A woman testifying with a veilBAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, in collaboration with the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), highlighted violations of women’s rights in Nigeria that were viewed by the public as normal or even justifiable abuse.  They used a mock tribunal to change public perceptions and beliefs regarding violations against women, and changed public policy and law.

Access to Justice: Creating local level, citizen action mediation bodies to ensure human rights

Women sitting in a circleThe Centre for Victims of Torture (CVICT) in Nepal instituted a tactic to circumvent the problem of police abuse through a process of rights-based community mediation. This community mediation process was piloted in three districts of the country. CVICT adapted the general community mediation process to meet the specific needs of women through instituting Women’s Peace Committees.

Right to Know, Right to Live: Building a campaign for the right to information and accountability

An audience of women in bright clothesMazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) has been deeply involved in a collective process which has shaped and influenced the Campaign for the Right to Information in India. MKSS makes the case that without access to information and transparency there can be no genuine participation from all members of society, particularly the poor, in democracy.

Child Friendly Villages: Using village strengths to combat child labour

Building Child Friendly Villages: Using village strengths to combat child labour and exploitative practices

Children wearving a carpetBachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Foundation) in India developed the concept and application of child friendly villages as a way to not only promote education for all but also combat the cycle of child labor. Child labor is both a cause as well as a consequence of poverty, illiteracy and lack of human security. The aim of child friendly villages is to create and sustain a child friendly atmosphere within the community to ensure education and put an end to child labor.

Using street conferences to raise awareness around civilians being sent to military trials

No To Military Trials uses “street conferences” to raise awareness around the issue of using military trials against civilian populations in Egypt. A street conference is a public gathering in a public space to raise awareness about a specific issue by providing testimony from victims affected by the issue. The goal of this tactic is to bring the issue to the public in a new way, beyond what is discussed in traditional avenues like the mainstream media.

Action Theatre: Initiating Changes

Actors performing in a dramaAin O Salish Kendra (ASK), in Bangladesh, has formed Action Theatre groups, or Manobadhikar Natya Parishad (MNP) in villages in twelve areas throughout Bangladesh. Action Theatre is an applied form of theatre that includes a dramatization of a social problem, followed by the participation of the community in identifying potential solutions and then the community moving forward to actually carry out the proposed solutions.  Local theatre groups are now gaining ground as a mobilizing force in Bangladesh.

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