All photos: Katharine Sidelnik

Breaking the silence.

Animating the violence.

Domestic violence.
Forced marriage.
Sexual assault.

They’re conversation stoppers in any language.

We’re trying to start one in Karamoja in north eastern Uganda – one of the poorest places on the planet.

‘Gender-based violence’ (GBV) is a fact of life there for many girls and young women. Rose’s story is a common one, but it touches on some very taboo subjects in Karamojong culture. It’s a very patriarchal society and women are often treated as men’s possessions.

Years of conflict and the effects of climate change have put a massive strain on local communities and their traditional nomadic pastoralist way of life.

Poverty has forced families to pull their children out of school and into working at home or tending the cattle. For some, their only source of income is to sell their daughters into marriage.

Women put themselves at great personal risk if they speak out against these practices. So they find it really hard to get their voices heard.

We found another way of talking about it. We already have child protection networks set up in the local communities. We tapped into these and sent UK animator Ellie Land to help young people express their feelings about the issues that are really affecting them.

They got together and created a story about a girl called Rose, whose experiences mirror many of their own. With their help, we turned Rose's story into a film and we’re touring local villages to screen it in mobile cinemas. In these rural areas many of the locals have never seen anything like it before and so the screenings draw big crowds.

The film is part of a bigger picture. We’re also:

  • Helping build and strengthen local community groups to enable them to identify and report cases of suspected gender based violence.
  • Training local courts, judges, local tribal chiefs and police to help them understand and enforce the Ugandan laws that are supposed to protect girls from violence and exploitation.
  • Improving services for those who do experience GBV – giving basic supplies to health centres and training staff how to work with child survivors of GBV. Our local social workers also accompany girls to the services to make sure that they get appropriate care and support from health centres, and from the legal courts.

All photos: Katharine Sidelnik

About the film

Katharine (our Programme Support Coordinator) and Francis Feddy Frank .O. (our social worker) recruited 9 young people to work on the project – they called themselves ‘Kalapata Activist Youth Group’. They met to learn and talk about GBV issues and they developed a drama which formed the basis of Rose’s story..

They discussed the story with Ellie over skype and she had some puppets of the characters created. She then flew them out to Uganda and shot the film over four days in a makeshift studio in War Child’s office.

Few of the children had even watched a TV before so it was quite a steep learning curve for them to get to grips with the stop motion film making technique, but they picked it up really quickly. They acted out how the characters should move and then recreated it with the puppets.

For more background information on how the film was made, see Ellie's Anu Kiro Nu website.