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“We have to speak about [gender-based violence] right now and in the future,” exclaimed Khongorzul, the co-founder of the ‘Beautiful Hearts against Sexual Violence’ NGO and co-host of Mongolia’s first podcast dedicated to ending gender-based violence.

In February 2017, for the first time in Mongolia’s history, domestic violence was criminalized. The revised Law on Combating Domestic Violence holds perpetrators accountable, while also providing support for survivors to seek help, accountability and justice.

However, the implementation of the law is only just the beginning because changing behavioral patterns and attitudes takes time. Recently, the media has brought attention to several cases of violent sexual and physical assaults against women and girls, sparking public outrage across the country.  However, violence against women and girls is not a new phenomenon.

“Globally, as well as in Mongolia, we estimate that nearly one in three women will experience some form of violence by an intimate partner during her life time,” explained Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Mongolia.

Khongorzul and her team at Beautiful Hearts have been working to eliminate domestic and sexual violence against women and girls by introducing innovative approaches to reach the public.

Lifting the veil of silence

In the not so distant past, public discussions about domestic and gender-based violence were considered taboo. With the recent spotlight on some high-profile cases, both domestically and internationally, more and more people are beginning to talk about this so-called silent crime.

When creating this podcast, the Beautiful Hearts team wanted to break the silence and show parents and survivors that change must happen, and change is happening.

Khongorzul says, “Survivors are beginning to feel that they are not alone, and they are able to seek assistance, or help each other.”

One survivor, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “My life seems to be a choice without a choice. I’m living in it because of my children. However, the information covered in the podcast is very useful for me. I now feel that I’m not alone.”

Awareness is key to ending the violence

“We know that podcasts are trending right now in Mongolia, and it’s a great tool to reach out to the public to raise awareness,” says Khongorzul.

Teaming up with Vibe Radio in Ulaanbaatar, the Beautiful Hearts are using a combination of radio and podcasts to reach the masses. This method allows their messages to be heard by young people who regularly listen to podcasts on their phone and for the evening commuter on their way home from work.

Their podcasts also address domestic violence and its impact on different community members such as LGBTIQ, people with disabilities, the elderly, children and women living in rural areas.

“In each episode, we invite a guest speaker, who is an expert in their field. For example, in our LGBTIQ episode, we invited experts from the LGBT Centre. In a previous episode, we hosted experts from the National Centre Against Violence,” explains Khongorzul.

Khongorzul believes it is crucial to raise awareness all the time, the process should never stop.

She says, “we have to speak about it right now and in the future. Consequently, the more people are aware of domestic violence, the more they will be action-oriented to stop this silent crime.”

The podcast – supported by UNFPA, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Vibe Radio – is available on Sound Cloud, Vibe 105.5 radio and various social media platforms. You can listen to each episode here:


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Story credit: Tim Jenkins, UNFPA