BODA BODA PROJECT
Arusha Mental Health Trust is the service provider for training and also direct service to vulnerable children. We have a passion for creating safe environments for women and children, the prevention of violence and positive psychosocial development for women and children. Arusha Mental Health Trust’s mission is to provide quality mental health care to people of all ages and backgrounds living in Arusha. Violence against women, young girls and children can cause long lasting mental health problems for the survivors of this violence if not treated appropriately. We at Arusha Mental Health Trust believe it is our responsibility to assist with prevention, investigation, and treatment of children being affected by child abuse and neglect.
The National Survey on Violence against Children, revealed that almost a third of females aged 13 to 24 experience at least one incident of sexual violence before the age of 18. The same survey showed that 72 percent of girls have experience some form of physical violence (UNICEF Tanzania, Violence against children in TZ: Findings from a national survey, 2009. Dar UNICEF TZ, 2011). The problem is overwhelming for police and civil society has a responsibility for protecting the most vulnerable people among us.
The statistics on women and girls abuse in Tanzania and in Arusha in particular are nothing short of staggering: according to a study undertaken by UNICEF in 2009 on behalf of the Government of Tanzania, nearly 75 percent of all children are victims of physical violence. The study also showed that nearly 30 percent of girls will experience at least one incident of sexual violence during childhood, and that 25 percent of girls are subjected to emotional violence before the age of 18. As a result, more than half of the girls in Tanzania have experienced some kind of violence during childhood, and real rate of abuse is likely to be significantly high.
Our target groups are vulnerable women and girls in Arusha subjected to violence; physical, mental and sexual abuse. Violence affects women of all ages: children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. Violence against women retards efforts for personal advancement and impedes poverty reduction because a huge portion of the population, women and girls’, potential is not utilized optimally. Violence and sexual abuse is a violation of human rights of the highest degree.
According to WHO, up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In Sub-Saharan Africa, between 13 and 45 percent of women suffer assault by their intimate partners and over 3 million girls are at risk of genital mutilation. Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and wars combined. Statistics also show that domestic violence prompts an increase in the number of street children as most of them turn to the streets when there is no peace at home. And according to one study carried out by a non-governmental organization fighting for women’s rights, Kivulini, Tanzania is among 50 countries in the world with a high percentage of domestic violence against women.
At the 8 March event, UN representatives also asserted that violence against women is undermining efforts to achieve the Millennium Development goals (MDG’s) in Africa, adding that socio-economic development for all peoples on all continents will not be realized if violence against women and girls continues.
The President of Tanzania, Kikwete, noted that African Heads of State and Government have taken a positive stand. They have enshrined in Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the inclusion of the gender parity principle. This places an even greater obligation for all Member States to enshrine this principle in their national constitutions, legislations and socio-economic development programmes.
The Law of the Child in Tanzanian (2009) offers a legal framework that criminalizes the abuse and neglect of children, but it has yet to become operational. In an effort to turn legal aspiration into practical reality, AMHT is attempting to build an innovative, locally viable communty-based model protection system for women & children.
We aim to mobilize the community by offering training to those who directly work with women & children in reporting abuse. As well as this, we want to team with those on the ground (motorcycle taxi drivers, police, teachers, journalists, parents, primary and secondary students, magistrates, those in ministry, ward officers & social workers) who we know to have direct access to our most vulnerable women and children – to operate as ‘our eyes’ in order to be on the look out to report, raise awareness & protect them.
To raise awareness, we aim to utilise the media, five local radio stations in Arusha (Radio Five, Sunrise Radio, Arusha One Radio, Triple A FM Radio & Radio Safina) & the print media – Arusha Leo, Arusha Times & Mwananchi newspapers. Online sources too will be utilised such as on our AMHT Facebook Page, the Arusha Mailing List, blogspots & online newspapers in the ‘announcement’ segments. As well as this, we will contact mosques/church leaders to inform them to ask that they might communicate our initiative to their community members.
We also aim to conduct trainings in all 19 wards of Arusha Municipal. This training will focus on the sensitive interviewing of women & girls post-abuse, defining abuse/violence as well as recognising, responding & referring on affectively. Our aim is to invite & include all of the the afore mentioned participants to this training or ‘eyes on the ground’ initiative.
The affected women and girls will then receive psychotherapy intervention here at AMHT with our well-qualified, competent, experienced & committed staff. This will be done through individidual and/or group therapy.
At AMHT, we have a team consisting of 3 counsellors, 2 social workers, 3 Psychiatrists, 2 supervisors & 1 clinical psychologist all of which offer one to one & group support to women, children & families as well as offering training on a wide range of social, psychological & spiritual issues affecting the above target groups & the community. Our aim is to increase the capacity, healing & coping mechanisms of any one who approaches our service for support/intervention. We believe this training plus the motorcycle driver initiative (described below) will take 12 months to fully implement & reach all 19 wards of Arusha & those community workers involved.
Ideally we would like to start implementing the training, support & awareness-raising initiative as soon as we have the financial support to get it off the ground affectively. The abuse is happening as we speak.
As stated above, we would first communicate with those community member stakeholders through the mediums afore mentioned. Once we had the funding, we would start raising awareness through the media, while conducting meetings with those partners who were willing to work with us. The training material & intellectual property is ready to be imparted.
We also want to devise these high visibility jackets with the logo ‘Kulinda Wanawake na Wasichana’ for motorcycle drivers to wear in order to create a sense of cohesion & team-spirit, boosting awareness & morale at the same time. Motorcycle drivers have the ability to get places fast and to access narrow, dark back routes where women and girls might be in more danger.We plan to offer specific training to these motorcycle drivers and have already been in touch with their officials.
days training will be given to each different group (wards, motocycle drivers, police, teachers etc). Therefore, we will need approximately 69 days of training spread over 6 months. We will also need at least 6 months for the monitoring & evaluation of the programme.
As a team at AMHT, we already all have the training, experience, education as well as the time, recources & energy to produce & deliver the training & awareness-initiative effectively. The only resource we yet lack, is the financial support/funding to carry it out. We have been particular about who we have employed at AMHT. Each professional brings with him/her different areas of expertise, experience & training. For example, one of our social workers has extensive experience working with schools training teachers & students in all areas from gender issues, abuse & sexuality.
Our training resources & programme titles includes:
Defining and Recognising Abuse/Violence Against Women & Children
Interviewing Women & Girls Sensitively
Reporting Abuse Affectively
Developmental Issues Related to the Abuse & Violence of Women & Girls
The Implication of Abuse on the Capacity of the Victims
Trauma & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to Abuse and Violence
Recovery, Support & Therapeutic Interventions for Women and Girls following the Reporting of Abuse & Violence
We have already delivered training to some local schools & catholic religious institutions on abuse, signs & the effects of abuse. Another training we carried out in schools and for parents recently was on recognising the Difference Between Punishment & Discipline. We have also helped some educational instititutes & orphanages to develop their Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy.
Every Thursday we have 45 minutes airtime on a local radio station on different mental health/community concerns so we can easily advertise the initiative when we are ready to launch it. To produce the high visibility jackets, we have already contacted the designer to create the logo as well as the producers of the jacket itself. Over this month we are already offering training to the officers in the Sokon I ward, a particularly dangerous, highly populated & impoverished area in Arusha.
Again, if this initiative is successful, it could be used as a template for protecting millions of women and girls all over Africa and indeed the world.
The Guardian Angels initiatve, a volunteer patrol group of mostly black and Hispanics in New York in the 1990’s proves that protection by the people for the people works. Crime levels in New York subways and streets dropped by 58% when they were at their peak in 1990.
All forms of violence against women and girls potentially reinforce a range of known determinants of overall health, including poor mental health status, social isolation, gender inequality and economic disadvantage. Violence diminishes women’s and girls’ ability to gain an education, earn a living and participate in public life, and has significant health impacts, including psychological consequences, physical injuries, sexual/reproductive health issues and death. Violence severely restricts women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, with grave consequences for sexual and reproductive health. Violence is one of the drivers of HIV/AIDs, and women living with HIV or AIDS can be the targets of further abuse and stigma.
Girls and young women may be at higher risk of many forms of gender-based violence because their young age increases the relative power of their abusers, it can contribute to life-long inequality that decreases their opportunities to access resources and souces of support. Harmful practices such as child marriage can result in early and unwanted pregnancies that pose life-threatening risks for adolescent girls.
Children who witness violence against their mothers or other female care givers are at significantnly higher risk of health problems – including depression, anxiety and low self-esteem – poor school perfomance and behavioural disturbance.
The social and economic costs of violence against women and girls are severe & it hinders broader poverty reduction efforts!