For sixteen days from the 25 November until the 10 December 2019, Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, and other major towns in Timor-Leste were bathed in orange, for the 'Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!' campaign. This campaign aimed to eradicate gender-based violence in Timor-Leste.
The Nabilan Program
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).
Timor-Leste has one of the highest rates of violence against women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region
Anna Yang, Nabilan Program
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 15-49, 14% have been raped by someone other than an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 10% in the past 12 months.'
Launching the campaign
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. 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 23 November.
Pilot Jason Job flew the group there early in the morning and then back to Dili later that afternoon.
'The opening event of the "16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence" was organised by the Timor-Leste 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 campaign has included information sessions, rallies, marches through the streets of Dili and social media campaigns.
Casa Vida - Life House
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.
Violence against women and children can be prevented but awareness of it is the first step.
Sujana Ximenes, Casa Vida
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 recognise and understand that violence happens too frequently. Many people in Timor-Leste see violence as a normal reaction. People do not understand that violence poisons and damages other people, paralysing their futures and their dreams.
This 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.
'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. 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.'