As the world celebrates the International Women’s Day today, Kibaha district has one of the most horrendous gender violence case that a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) known as Picha ya Ndege Paralegal is currently handling.
However corruption as usual is likely to take its toll making the victim lose justice as the trend of the case presently indicates, the NGO’s officials fear. The organization has vowed to see to it that justice prevails.
A young girl’s secret parts were pierced with a heated knife by her step mother at Kwa Mathias in Kibaha, Coast Region in 2009.
She did not care to send her to a health facility and the girl subsequently started smelling as the parts developed ulcers.
It remained a secret for sometime until a neighbour confided the news to Kibaha Picha ya Ndege Paralegal, an organization that fights against all forms of gender violence and gives free legal support to any one in need.
“We took the matter very seriously and reported it to the police and soon was apprehended,” the Acting Project Coordinator, Zaituni Ali said.
“What we do not understand is why the woman is now scot-free and nothing is going on at the police concerning her,” she said, vividly perturbed.
She vowed to fight until justice is done and is now consulting the Dar es Salaam-based Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) to see how best they can deal with the matter.
“Such brutal acts in Kibaha are rampant and thank God we are here because people, especially women are now all out to reveal their ordeals,” he says.
Kibaha Picha ya Ndege Paralegal started in 2009 as KIWODESO- (Kibaha Women Development Society) and changed to Kibaha Picha ya Ndege Paralegal which has now some 16 members, one of them a man.
The Coordinator says according to experience, women are the most affected as far as gender violence is concerned.
The Ngo is currently operating in four wards of Kwala, Dutuni, Magindu and Gwata.
Between May and August this year, the organization implemented a project funded by the Foundation for Civil Society worth 7.5m/-.
“We involved various stake-holders including other non-governmental organizations during its inauguration. These include the police’s Gender Desk, District Council officials, Division and Ward officials, Sub-village leadership executives and the ordinary people.
The villages involved included Magindu, Milalazi, Mizuguni,Gwata, Mwembengozi, Mperamumbi, Msua, Kwala, Gumba, Lukenge, Dutumi and Madege. There were also religious leaders, ward executives of the four wards, special groups like widows and people living with HIV/Aids.
The inaugural testimony giving function was at Magindu followed by Kwala in the district while others followed suit.
“We started receiving positive results. Revelations were flowing to our office.
People were already sensitized,” the coordinator of the organization said.
She said the worst of all was the one in which a young girl had her secret parts pierced with a knife heated in fire.
The girl was staying with her step mother after her mother died.
“It was only when a neighbour reported this incident to us when we knew about it,” she said adding, “we reported the matter to the police and the woman who inflicted the pain to the girl was arrested henceforth.”
“The only thing we are surprised is that the woman has not been arraigned in court over the incident.
“We suspect that corruption has taken place. What we are doing now is to contact the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) so that it can help us.
The Chairperson of the organization, Victoria Mrema says land disputes, problems of child abandonment and widows are rampant in Kibaha.
She says between January and June 2012 a total of 13 cases were dealt with by the organization.
There were five cases concerning marriage disputes and four on land disputes while there were two cases concerning hereditary and four on conflicts between neighbours.
In the 2012/2013 the organization has vowed to sensitize the public on various aspects of gender violence.
The organization has cordial working relations with the Police Gender Desk and all Ward Reconciliation Council which she said are handing over many of their cases to the organization for finding solutions.
She revealed that there was case in which a married man wanted to marry another woman clandestinely without the notice of his wife he had with for years.
“This was reported to us and what we did was to inform the police. The illegal marriage was disrupted one day before the marriage,” she said.
She however said that there were many challenges in the implementation of the organization’s work.
“We normally deal with poor people which means sometimes they do not have the bus fare to come to the centre and back home,” the chairperson said adding that the office has no funds to entertain the clients.
“Some of the clients come to us to report on how they have stayed for two days without eating food because of their uncompromising husbands. We sometimes provide them with something to eat before they tell us about their ordeals,” she says.
All in all the Kibaha Picha ya Ndege Paralegal has reasons to celebrate for its achievements for far.
Tanzania has one of the highest sexual harassment rates in Africa. Around 44 percent of women have reported to experience it from their husbands, according to statistics.