We Encourage and Partners to Help Victims of Domestic Violence in Tanzania
We Encourage has launched AINO, a conversational tool for victims of domestic violence. AINO is already in use and constantly developed in Finland. But we are not going to stop there — we are on a mission to take AINO to Tanzania to help victims of domestic violence. Such a big project is not to be done alone, and that is why we are partnering with several amazing parties in this project.
What Exactly Will We Do?
We want AINO to bring psychosocial support to victims of domestic violence in Tanzania. In addition to that, we want to establish a supportive ecosystem of key partners and professionals that can help victims of domestic violence in Tanzania. Our aspiration is that by helping to build a support system through collaboration and the conversational AI tool AINO, victims of domestic violence in Tanzania could find new ways to seek help.
Domestic violence is a grave problem in Tanzania. According to a Demographic and Health Survey 2015–2016 of Tanzania, almost 75% of ever-married Tanzanian women experienced marital control, and about 50% experienced spousal violence. Although married women experience more violence, violence against women in general is common in Tanzania. Out of women between ages 15 and 49, 40% experienced physical violence and 17% experienced sexual violence, committed by anyone. (Ministry of Health Tanzania, 2016, 367.)
Although the number of victims of domestic violence is high, seeking and receiving help is not guaranteed. Most often, victims of violence turn to their families for help. A woman who experiences violence is expected to talk to her husband’s family before anyone else. The aim is to solve the issue in the family, to ensure the marriage can continue. Often, authorities are not reported. (Champion Project 2014, 2–3.) Family, partner’s family, friends and neighbours are the most common sources of help. Only about nine percent of women sought help from the police according to the Demographic and Health Survey 2015–2016 of Tanzania (Ministry of Health Tanzania, 2016, 374.)
Partnering to Make Use of Local and Specialised Expertise
To ensure the best possible planning and implementation of this project, We Encourage is partnering with several companies and NGOs in this project. At this point, we have four confirmed partners: Felm, Hyvinpitely, C-Sema and KIWOHEDE. The project is funded by Fingo Powerbank.
Felm is an organisation of the Finnish Lutheran church. Felm cooperates with churches internationally, advancing peace, human rights, and emergency relief. It is partially funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In development cooperation, gender equality is one of the areas they work in, and Tanzania is one of the countries for Felm’s development work.
Hyvinpitely is a private actor in the health sector in Finland, offering specialised services to both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. Their team consists of licensed healthcare professionals, and they have strong experience from the field.
C-Sema is a Tanzanian organisation, helping the children of Tanzania by running a telephone service that listens to children’s needs and problems. They then further the concerns of the children to the government, making the children’s voices heard. Their name refers to their mission, as “sema” is Swahili for “speak”.
KIWOHEDE, or Kiota Women’s Health and Development, is a Tanzanian organisation founded by nurses and social workers. KIWOHEDE was founded to help girls off the streets, a mission to create a safe space. Hence the name: “kiota” is Swahili for “nest”.
Fingo Powerbank funds the project. Fingo’s mission is to advance a more sustainable world by supporting development NGOs. Fingo helps NGOs to find technologies for their solutions and to find partners from the private sector.
Cultural Understanding is Key
The pathways to help-seeking in domestic violence cases in Tanzania includes several barriers. Age, marital status and the type of violence used affect a victim’s decision and way of seeking help. For example, a female under 25 years reported that “When it (rape) is done by someone who is a stranger to you, it becomes a big issue, but if it is your sex partner, you have to tolerate it, because marital issues should remain inside”. Already, the decision to seek help is made difficult with considerations on the perpetrator. Many will not report rape to authorities because of feeling humiliated. Outside Dar es Salaam, the business capital of Tanzania, support services are not well known, and they are very limited. Seeking help from authorities is also hard because of sociocultural barriers: a female between the ages 18 and 24 years old reported: “Some girls will not report because they feel humiliated. It’s not like there are no girls who are raped. There are so many, but they just don’t report to the authorities.” (Champion Project 2014, 2–3.) Because of these barriers to seeking help, it is important that we work with Tanzanian partners who understand the local context.
Stay tuned, because we will be posting updates on this project. We will also introduce our partners and people involved, and tell more about their work!