Organising against gender based violence in Tanzania. By Thadei Kamisa

On the night of 5th December 2018, citizens of Pangani Town were saddened by the news of the rape and murder of a local village nurse. People grieved for the sudden death of the 23 year old who disappeared immediately after the last ferry crossing from Pangani town to Bweni village where she had been living.

Two men were later charged with her murder. It turned out that they both lived in proximity to her and she regularly assigned them to fetch water, paid them and sometimes gave them food. According to the killers, they had no grudge or personal vengeance against her, rather substance abuse led them to commit the crime.

She worked as a nurse at the village dispensary; she was a down-to earth person and loved by everyone. Without hesitation she would wake in the night to help treat seriously ill infants and children at the village. Her death has left a gap within the nursing field in Pangani district.

The people of Pangani, along with District Commissioner, the Deputy Minister of water and energy, participants from the police, government, local NGOs, civil society organization, politicians, government employees chose to mark the end of 16 days of gender activism on 10th December 2018 by gathering at the village where the nurse lived, to pay tribute in a ceremonial procession against ongoing gender based violence and assaults on children and girls, and to commit to taking responsibility to protect women survivors of violence through this year’s theme “Funguka, Usalama wake, Wajibu Wangu”. This aims to honour and further amplify voices, whether a housewife at home, a school girl abused by her teacher, an office secretary, a sports woman, or a boy who is an intern in a business, bringing them together across locations and sectors in a movement of solidarity.

The gathering visited the crime scene with candles to plant a memorial tree in a bid to remember the victim‘s spirit of volunteership and hard work.

Violence against women, girls and children is a chronic issue in Pangani; it is a moral insult to all women, girls and children and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. In our area, violence against women, girls and children is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect, a failure by some men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women, girls and children.

A  multi-sectoral approach is needed to increase awareness of Gender Based Violence and Violence Against Children so as to identify, prevent and mitigate against them.  The intervention on Gender Based Violence and Violence Against Children need to be sustainable and built on existing community structures and based in empowerment for social transformation.

Community volunteers, community reporting agents and local government leaders need to be intensively trained so that each could play a role of supervising an area assigned to them, in which they will have responsibility to  follow up and report every incident that occurs in a given area to the relevant authority for quick action. Such will be the only way in which, acts of GBV and VAC will be reduced in our societies.

 

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