Civil Peace Service Partners of BfdW-EED and AGEH celebrate the International Peace Day 2013 focusing on the fundamental theme “Peace at Home.” By Dr. El HadjMalickSyKonaré The International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations in 1981 to praise the efforts of those who resolutely have worked to end conflicts and promote peace. During the celebration of the International Day of Peace people around the world take part in various activities and organize events centered on the theme “peace”. These events vary from private gatherings to public concerts and forums involving large audiences.In Sierra Leone the International Day of Peace is jointly implemented since 2010 by the Civil Peace Service Program of “Bread for the World-The Protestant Development Service” (BfdW-EED) and the “Association for Development Cooperation” (AGEH), both funded by the German Ministry for Development Cooperation. In 2013 the focus on the International Day of Peace will be putthe Theme “Peace at Home”. Peace, as a state of harmony is indeed first of all of inner nature. Inner peacebeingsomething we all long for, since it is impossible to create peace in our surrounding environment, including our families (the building blocks of all societies) without this inner serenity. But it wouldsurely be important to first undertake a brief analysis of what domestic violence is and how do the Partners of the German Civil Peace Service address this phenomenon? Inequality, discrimination and violence frequently have their sources in subjective factors such as fear, ignorance and suspicionwhich are deeply rootedin the social structures of societies and are often culturally legitimized. They cause distress and misery affecting millions of people around the world and at the same time undermine their well-being, their safety and their ability to fulfill their human potential. Now considering the degree of devastation that these interwoven factors, specifically domestic and gender based violence, generate in our societies, it appears obvious that they should inevitably be adequately addressed within a framework of a holistic and inclusive approach. Nowthe central question should be how can we deal with these discrepancies and injustices in a constructive and nonviolent way?The Federal Republic of Germany has indubitably taken the global leadership in this specific field, after having developed and implemented a unique and efficient approach of non-military and non-violent actions towards the transformation of conflicts. This bottom up oriented approach called the Civil Peace Servicewas established in 1999 andconsiders Peace work as a process and not as an end or final goal. It is about creating an enabling environment for dialogue and discussion and finding solutions to problems and tensions, without fear of violence. It is indeed in this perspective that the German Development Organizations AGEH and BfdW-EED support the efforts of their respective partners in Sierra Leone and cooperate every year to celebrate the International Peace Dayas part of the Civil Peace Service. The theme of this 2013 celebration is “Peace at Home”, a concept which implicitly implies the need to address domestic and gender based violence. The scheduled activities range from artistic performances of the Freetong Players International inKenema, Bo, Makeni and Freetown (respectively the 5th, 6th, 13thand 19th of September) to roundtables, conferences and discussions forums, interactive radio on-air discussions where “Model Families”discuss their peaceful and creativemethods of conflict resolution. The show in Freetown will take place at “Eastern Police Clock Tower”. A mega concert in Freetown on September 21st, 2013 at 8:00 PM at St Anthony Hall, Syke Street will close the event. Although domestic violence,as a human right violation, embraces all forms of violent acts also those inflictedon men and children, violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation:“Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. Based on country data available, up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.” Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Domestic violence is hence a conduct used by one person in a relationship to control the other and it includes physical assaults, sexualabuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), emotional or psychological, and financial violence and can affect everyone regardless of ethnic, social, professional and religious affiliation or sexual orientation. Graphic 1: Domestic Violence Cycle: The different phases of Domestic Violence. Source: Own Conception This graphic highlights the interrelation of the different phases of the domestic violence cycle and its main characteristic symbolized by its ongoing aspect.The phase I is the conflict phase, where nerve-wrackingand stressful factors deterioratethe peaceful atmosphere of the family life. Violence usually starts verbally until gettingto a climax. This is when Phase II – physical violence – happens. The Third stage of repentance begins when the perpetrator realizes his misdeed and atrocity andbegins promising that the abuse will never happen again.To help bring this issue out of the shadows, AGEH, BfdW-EED and their respective partners decided within the framework of the celebration of the International Peace Day 2013 to address this specific issue through the symbolic theme“Peace at Home” which is an initiative to build awareness, educate, and improve prevention through the promotion of changes in the social and cultural patterns of behaviour of women and men with a view to eradicating prejudices, customs, traditions and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men. The CPS partners consider encouraging all members of society, especially men and boys, to contribute actively to preventing all forms of domestic violence from sociocultural stereotypes and economic injustices, to religious misinterpretation of the place of women in society, laws and customs preventing women from owning land or other productive assets to the brutal and fatal phenomenon of reparation or revenge if the so called “Family Honour” is perceived to have been jeopardized by women and girls. The act of raising awareness about domestic violence can as well potentially help victims by letting them know they are not alone and that there are ways to get help and stop the abuse. Graphic 2:Addressing domestic violence also requires transforming the discriminatory social structures legitimating gender inequalities in our societies. Source: Own Conception (Picture of the man mistreating his family from: http://www.examiner.com/slideshow/d…). Nobody deserves to be sexually abused, raped or violated at home. You don’t need to keep quiet about it because there are laws protecting victims such as the three Gender Acts, the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 and the Child Rights Act of 2007. If you are victim or you are aware of a victim, speak to people you trust in your community, including the Imam or the Pastor. You can also visit any NGO or even report to the nearest police station. You can also call the free, confidential and helpful line 116. Homes and families should be nests of harmony and inner peace, the center of our lives, the epicenterwhereour soul and body find restand relaxation. Both as children and adults, our home and family are where we should feel most comfortable in the world, since the familial atmosphere moldsour attitudes andour self-esteem. It is hence important to have “Peace at Home”. The CPS Partners invite you all to the final Mega Concert and would be very grateful if you could pass on the message to all your friends and relatives.