ActionAid Tanzania (AATZ), in collaboration with SAWAMA(Sauti ya Wanawake Mafia), organised a TV talk show broadcast live by Clouds TV(360 programme) from Mafia District, last month, to discuss mechanisms of addressing violence against girls and the role of community and government in ensuring safe environment for them in and around schools.
The main purpose of the TV talk show was to raise awareness in the community and decision makers, on the magnitude of violence against girls in schools, discuss and recommend possible actions and alternatives on what can be done by different stakeholders and the community to stop violence against girls in schools to ensure their right to education is realized
The live broadcast was facilitated by the fact that Mafia District has no any media house or freelancers based in the area. So it was an opportunity for the dialogue to be heard and watched by viewers across the country and especially policy makers at national level.
The dialogue brought together representatives from key public service providers such as police, judiciary, health, social welfare and community development, religious leaders, teachers, pupils and women associations.
During the debate, community members confirmed that different forms of violence exist in Mafia and is really affecting children and women. Some of them include sexual abuse, rape, child abuse and so on.
"Last year, we had a case where pupils were sexual abused. We made a follow up and reported the case to the police and the case is still in court,"
explained Sauda Ally, a member of SAWAMA.
Another SAWAMA member Mwanaimani Abdallah, added that there is another incident that happened last year, where a parent raped her child and then killed her. This event hurt us so much and the cause was Muhali"(a practice within coastal community where you can not expose a shameful act done within a respective community)
A pupil Rachel Julius further added, "I was in class six when we heard that there is a child who has been raped and killed.I felt so bad about it. The community still does not understand the effects of violence to the children."
Sharing statistics of the reported cases, Mafia Police station chief Said Abdallah, said that since January 2017 to April 2018, they have received 27 cases where 21 of them relates to child rape. six cases are still under investigation, nine were dropped due to lack of evidence, three cases saw family members reconciling at home while three are already in court. On the other hand the remaining four cases related to sexual abuse are in court.
Regarding the issue of medical tests as evidence in cases of sexual abuse or rape, Dr Zuberi Ally Mzighe,Ag District Medical Officer said, "The issue of abuse depends on the support/cooperation from the victim..The main challenge is that victims don’t come on time to the hospital for medical tests. They come after a week or more which is difficult to get medical evidence. This brings a lot of contradictions because as professionals, we do not deny the truth. We report what we find and not otherwise."
He went on to advise community members to report immediately (after a rape incident or abuse) to the hospital for medical tests to allow further processes to proceed.
In connection to the factors that contribute to the existence of harassment, Husna Makungu, said traditional norms, values and customs such as Muhali (shyness) contribute a lot because they force people to shy away from reporting and giving evidence in court, simply because they fear how the family or community will perceive them.
"I hate this behaviour, it’s ignorance; I urge people in Mafia not to entertain it," she added.
The Mafia District Social Worker, Mwajuma Hassan, explained that Muhali is affecting their efforts a lot, because family members are not ready to cooperate. She admitted that more awareness on effects of rape and sexual abuse of children and its reporting mechanism is still needed within the community. "We thank AATZ for its work in our district...It has helped in raising awareness on issues of violence and reporting. Initially, actions were taken but there was no information. Now, we get information and work it out..." said Mwajuma.
On the issue of child marriages, participants confirmed that it is still a problem and advised that a lot of efforts are needed to address it.
To view the TV talk show follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l49GY6qbs64