In campaigns on issues distant from the campaigners’ daily reality, local activists and organizations who are affected by the campaign issue must be consulted. The campaign must be designed and implemented in partnership with people who experience the campaign issue in their own lives. Ignoring this rule may undermine valuable local work and the credibility of the campaign.
Many campaigns to end VAW have been initiated by women who experienced VAW in their own lives. Survivors with different social, economic and cultural backgrounds may experience VAW and related issues in vastly different ways. Hence, even in campaigns run by VAW survivors, it is important to consult widely with a broad range of women and girls whose issues are addressed in a campaign.
Example: An example of poor consultation with local sources is the case of Amina Lawal, who had been sentenced to death by a low-level court in Nigeria that found her guilty of adultery (2002). Unfortunately, well-meaning but inaccurate information used in international letter-writing campaigns to support her cause negatively impacted the credibility of activists in Nigeria, making it difficult to have the judgment overturned using the appeals system. As a result of this experience, women’s rights NGO Women Living under Muslim Laws (WLUML) and BAOBAB for Women’s Rights pleaded: “We are asking for international solidarity strategies that respect the analyses and agency of those activists most closely involved and in touch with the issues on the ground and the wishes of the women and men directly suffering rights violations. (…) Of course, there is always the possibility that those directly involved are wrong but surely the course of action is to persuade them of the correctness of one’s analysis and strategies, rather than ignore their wishes. They at least have to live directly with the consequences of any wrong decisions that they take. Please do liaise with those whose rights have been violated and/or local groups directly involved to discuss strategies of solidarity and support before launching campaigns.” Read the full plea from Baobab for Women’s Human Rights.
Amina Lawal’s legal team eventually succeeded in winning her appeal and overturning the judgement.