‘Safe travel for girls without sexual exploitation is possible'

28Dec 2021
Sabato Kasika
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
‘Safe travel for girls without sexual exploitation is possible'

FEMALE students are among the major victims of sexual harassment implemented by folks including motorcycles, tricycles and daladala drivers, a situation that hampers them from achieving their education goals and development.

To help address the challenge, the Women in Development Initiative (WAJIKI) came up with a campaign dubbed, ‘Safe Travel for Girls and Students without Sexual Exploitation Is Possible’ which is taking place in Kinondoni and Ilala districts and has now reached Temeke in Dar es Salaam Region.

The campaign works closely with the drivers, educating them to value and protect girl students.

For Temeke district, the campaign was officially launched last week and was attended by various stakeholders including teachers, social welfare officers and the district commissioner's representatives

The campaign has been taking place in primary and secondary schools on the streets and in the bodaboda drivers’ stands.

The campaign involves over 72 bodaboda and Bajaj stands which have 2,598 drivers and eight groups of 543 daladala drivers.

Janeth Mawinza, director of WAJIKI says fight against sexual exploitation is among the violence, which they will put more efforts to ensure that girls are protected top achieve their dreams in life.

Mawinza says, through the campaign they have rescued a number of girls by setting up committees to transport students to school or home so that they do not scatter on daladala stops.

“This campaign was officially launched in 2018 and is based in Kinondoni and Ilala districts, and now we have expanded to Temeke district, and our strategy is to reach all districts of Dar es Salaam Region,” Mawinza says.

She says, her organization is facilitated by the Women Trust Fund Tanzania (WFT) and is partnering with bodaboda, Bajaj and daladala drivers as they are an important link in cracking down on sexual exploitation.

“WAJIKI believes that if these drivers and their conductors decide to refuse to be involved in such exploitation, which is also sexual violence, such acts will not flourish in society,” he says.

Mawinza says WAJIKI wants to ensure that students travel safely and achieve their academic goals.

According to the director, sexual violence, including sexual harassment of students, is one of the most frequently reported incidents in the country, and that they as an organization are striving to play their part.

“If you look at the police statistics, it shows that cases of child abuse are on the rise, for example, from January to September this year, it has reached 6,168 cases,” says Mawinza.

She explains that 5,287 are girls and 881 are boys, while 3524 are raped and 637 are raped, of which 567 are boys and 70 are girls.

“There was a total of 1,887pregnancy, 130 were set of fire, of those 97 were girls and were 33 boys 3,800 suspects arrested while 2,368 cases were being investigated and 88 cases were decided,” she said.

She says that the violence is taking root in the community, wherewith the empowerment of their WFT donors, continue with a campaign to educate the community about the effects of sexual violence, including sexual exploitation.

“We are empowering men to fight sexual violence and enable bodaboda, Bajaj and daladala drivers as well as conductors to carry out an anti-sexual exploitation agenda and protect students, developing a network that defends women's rights in the fight against gender-based violence,” she says.

In addition, she said the organisation plans to expand its activities by having branches nationwide so as to rescue more girls from abuse.

Doto Killangi, who represented the Temeke district commissioner at the launch of the ‘Safe Travel for Girls and Students without Sexual Offenses,’ urged people to work with the government in the fight against gender-based violence and end such acts in society.

Killangi said that everyone must do their part to end such practices, including providing information to state agencies, rather than leaving it to governments and civil society organisations to combat gender-based violence.

“Sexual violence is not a matter of turning a blind eye, let everyone do their part to end such acts so that all children and women can achieve their goals,” Killangi said.

She said there are many forms of violence, including sexual violence, child abuse, so it is important that the community actively participates in the fight to end them.

Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB’s) district representative, Esther Mkokota, said drivers should know that they have a great opportunity to help students realise their potential by not dragging them down.

“We are there to support the government’s efforts to combat such acts, corruption is a crime and violence is also a crime, so avoid those mistakes,” Mkokota said.