WOMEN AND CHILD RIGHTS ADVOCACY
Sexual/Gender Based violence continue to be the greatest contributor to the spread of HIV/ AIDS. Despite substantial progress to raise awareness about gender based violence as a serious Human Rights violation the vice is yet to reduce particularly among the fishing community in Suba. Fishing being a major economic activity in Suba District has posed many challenges to the women and girls, they have been made vulnerable to sexual and Gender-based violence. This is as a result of powerful cultural barriers, including feminization of poverty, unequal power relations, lack of education, lack of decision making powers and control over their own sexuality, lack of control over resources posing serious social and health consequences for them. The projects main goal is to reduce the incidences of sexual /gender based violence in the community.
The following are our objectives:
- To strengthen the community to adequately respond and prevent the dramatic rise of S/GBV against women and adopt local approaches to address the vise
- To strengthen partnership and collaboration with relevant line ministries and CSOs in the community through – capacity strengthening of opinion leaders stakeholders on human rights and S/GBV
- To strengthen the existing community structures to be more proactive in promoting women’s human rights
- To increase community awareness on women’s human rights and health impact of S/GBV
Our Activities include:
- Baseline Survey
DEVLINK conducted a baseline survey in three divisions of Suba; Mbita, Central and Gwassi to assess the extent of S/GBV in Suba District. The exercise involved random sampling of respondents within the three divisions, key informants, and focus group discussions within the community and with school going children. The research targeted the whole community to bring out the realities of S/GBV both to the survivor’s, victims and those affected through it in one way or the other.
The objective of the survey was to
- Identify the prevalence of S/GBV and the prevalent forms of S/GBV
- To find out the causes of S/GBV in the district
- To identify the consequences of S/GBV
- Assess understanding of human rights among girls and women and
- Determine the role of existing structures in dealing with S/GBV in Suba District
According to the baseline survey on violence against women and girls, out of the different forms of violence, sexual violence was the leading in Suba District standing at 48 % while physical violence stood at 37.2% while the other forms of violence only account for 14.7%. It was also realized that many women do not know their rights. Most of the cases of S/GBV also went unreported because of the apathy of the victims towards the structures responsible for handling cases of S/GBV. Some of the cases also went unreported due to the cultural of silence associated with S/GBV cases.
Women and girls in Suba district face gender inequality, retrogressive cultural practices, and unequal economic status and gender stereotypes. These factors coupled by S/GBV make it impossible for women to speak openly and tell someone if they have been abused, seek information, follow treatment or even raise the subject for discussion. This is further made difficult by the fact that the few women who seek help from structures fail to get help. It is in this case that DEVLINK organized district gender forum bring all stakeholders together and discuss ways of ensuring that various structures including the civil society and the government be accountable and take collective action to seriously challenge S/GBV, the culture of silence and indifference against the vise that has led to increased cases of abuse in the district.
The objectives of the forum included:
- To identify the role of the existing community, civil society and government structures in addressing gender based violence?
- To address ways in which structures responsible for providing services for victims and survivors of S/GBV can fill the gap that exists between them and the communities that depend on them for these services
- To address the impact of cultural beliefs traditions and myths on HIV/AIDS on health and human rights violations
- To find out how the different structures and the community can work together in fighting S/GBV
Whereas women are the majority and have the potential of controlling and dominating activities in the fishing industry most of the times they find themselves violated because men see them as the weaker sex. They further suffer physical and sexual violence at the beaches from the fishermen who expect them to pay for the fish through sex (Jaboya).The women are usually raped or coerced into sex i.e. economic coercion. When they are physically assaulted they cannot work thus low economic standards leading the families to suffer. This has made the women lose self confidence and feel like they are not part of the community making them vulnerable to further abuse. Most of the victims of S/GBV do not talk about the abuses thus psychological effects.
DEVLINK has brought women fish trader’s together to educate them on general human rights. This included their economic rights and rights to own property they were further educated on retrogressive cultural dictates such as wife inheritance that has made them vulnerable to S/GBV and HIV/AIDS. They have also been informed on how to negotiate with the men in the beaches to avoid coercion on S/GBV, how to handle cases of S/GBV, procedure of reporting the cases to relevant institutions and hospitals to avoid negative health effects of S/GBV. As a result of the women’s rights education, most of the women have improved self esteem and 65 % of women fish traders can now buy fish without being compromised to sexual overtures by the “jaboya”