AJISO enhances security of women and children in Rombo

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In many communities of Africa, women and children are subjected to abuse and denial of their rights. The dominant patriarchy system in most of the African societies and the low level of awareness and understanding of human rights are among the factors that contribute to perpetuating the problem.

That situation stimulates some civil society organisations to initiate projects to support in community education, awareness creation and capacity building on women and children’s rights. Akina mama Jiendeleze Sote (AJISO) is one of the organisations have been working for the rights of women and children in Tanzania.

In 2009, AJISO implemented a community capacity building on the rights and security of women and children in Rombo District, Kilimanjaro region. The Foundation supported the project with Tshs 34,933,300. It is encouraging to note that implementation of the project not only helped to make people aware of the women and children’s rights but also has facilitated formation of paralegal and support groups in the community.

As the Executive Director of the organisation, Virginia Silayo elaborates, AJISO conducted participatory seminars in Rombo district involving, local government officials, law enforcers, faith-based organisations, health personnel, women groups, and other service providers, on women and children rights, HIV/AIDS issues and human rights in general. Seminar participants identified two representatives; one woman and one man from each Village to be trained as paralegals. That led into training of 80 paralegals. The trained paralegals are now providing useful support in legal problems and education on human rights in the community.

Virginia says that the introduction of paralegal system in Rombo district has helped in developing a good network and smooth referral system between paralegals, Community and other service providers. For instance, service providers agreed that victims of rape and gender based violence can be rushed to hospital for treatment while other procedures like taking of PF3 from the police and other legal mechanisms are being arranged by other members of the paralegal system.  Another good example is the initiation of a training programme for post-natal on women and children at Huruma hospital in the district.

Also, beneficiaries can show vivid examples of how they have applied the knowledge learnt from the project.  For instance, participants from Mashati division explain that the knowledge they received has helped them to rescue two sexually abused girls aged 8 and 14 years. They stated that children were subjected to sexual abuse by their mother after the death of their father, who was the sole breadwinner. The mother opted to engage in sex business, especially selling herself to road contractors and later engaged her daughters in the business.  AJISO paralegal reported the matter to Police for legal actions. Then the victims were taken to Huruma Hospital for medical examination, which proved that the children were sexually abused and extremely damaged. The mother of the children was arrested and locked at Ibukoni custody for further investigation pending prosecution. Under supervision and support from neighbours and local leaders, children have resumed school while other efforts are being made to get them a reasonable and safe place to stay.

Also, Ndewauliwa Kimonge, a Paralegal from Manda Juu Village in Rombo District explains how she has applied the knowledge she learnt from AJISO. She says that the training from AJISO helped her manage to assist woman who was beaten and hacked by her husband with machete. Ndewauliwa helped the woman to report the matter to police who arrested the man (husband) and put him in custody.

“The case is now proceeding before the Rombo District court and I always make follow-ups to it,” she says.

Another interesting testimony is from Cecilia Tarimo Beneficiary from Sambarai Village, Kindi Ward in Moshi Rural District.

Cecilia narrates “My husband who was a police officer passed away in 1st of December 2008 and left me with two children. His relatives chased me away and took each and everything that my husband left. I suffered much as I had no job or any assistance to raise my children. It is until the year 2009, after being instructed by the Moshi Widows Educational and Counseling Centre (MOWEC) to consult AJISO for Legal Advice.

I thank AJISO who advised me on how to apply for letters of Administration, consequences thereof I won the case and granted the same. I am now happy with my children because I was given     back all my deceased husband’s properties and now I am waiting for survivors’ benefits which are still being processed.”
                       
On the other hand, beneficiaries Mwinjuma Ally, Shabani Bakari and Bakari Mohamed of Majengo, Moshi Municipal thank AJISO for building their capacity, which enabled them to argue and defend their labour case.
“We were unlawfully Terminated by our employer, and denied our Terminal Benefits. We reported the matter to the labour tribunal whereby our employer was called for mediation. We were not satisfied by the benefits awarded therein; therefore we consulted AJISO who advised us to take the matter to the court of law. Our employer hired a very prominent advocate in town. We thank AJISO for building our capacity on how to argue and defend our case, we gained strength and confidence to confront the advocate and we won the case which took three years from 2006 to 2009,” says Mwinjuma Ally.

However, members of AJISO say that there are still enormous challenges and obstacles in community awareness creation and provision of legal aid, the main one being the government to continue retaining various discriminatory, bad and oppressive laws, norms, and customs whereby the victims of those are mainly women.

“Furthermore poverty, illiteracy, lack of guts and own decision making, together with the total dependence of women to men has been a great obstacle towards achieving an equitable and just society,” says Esther Kibanga, AJISO Legal Officer.


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