ActionAid has been working with women like Sakiya, victims of domestic violence in political conflict areas
Sakiya is a 51 year old woman living in Bannag Sata district of Yala province, one of the three southern provinces in Thailand affected by a political conflict since 2004. Sakiya had been suffering in her marriage life for 24 years without any hope for a better life. Since August 2010, ActionAid Thailand and We Peace started implementing the project Stop violation in women live in the conflict area to support women like her.
Sakiya's husband was aggressive and addicted to drugs, Mitragyna leave and treated her as one of his possessions. He assaulted and mistreated her every day even while she was pregnant. She gave birth to a disabled boy who is now 3 year old and blamed her husband for causing the boy disability since she suffered from stress and from his physical attacks during pregnancy. Marriage has been like living in hell she said and violence directly affected her five children.
She lives in Muslim village where the local culture and context oppressed women, claiming it is a Muslim rule. Idea of divorce is not well accepted among the villagers and women widows would be discriminated as second class population. Sakiya has no choice other than kept her suffering silent.
Last August, a volunteer from We Peace and psychologist visited Sakiya at home and listened to her story. She started joining project activities such as psycho counseling, peer group sharing and learnt that she is not the only one suffering from domestic violence. She recognized that the domestic violence she has faced is not an ordinary marriage life. She recalled her confident and realized that she needed to claim for her rights and stand for her children. She consulted We Peace and requested for an approach to divorce her husband from Provincial Islamic Committee. Her opponent is not only her husband but also the surrounding villagers. She stood up for herself against the villager’s attitude towards Muslim widow. Through a consultation from the religious leader, she has learnt and understood detail of religious rule and finally demanded to divorce her husband. Her divorce demanding has been preceded by the Provincial Islamic Committee for five months.
Presently she joins We Peace as a volunteer to pay home visits and help other violence-affected women in her nearby villages. Through her knowledge and experience, she is able to alter the attitude of the villagers towards Muslim widow; they have seen her as a champion. In three months, she has assisted two women who are suffering from domestic violent to realize their rights and proceed to claim for their rights.