Words from OVAH's Founder
Modesta is the founder of Our Voices Against Harassment (OVAH) – an organization with the mission to provide the tools and medium for every child in Tanzania to report harassment they experience, so justice can take place. Modesta started Our Voices Against Harassment, previously known as Our Cries, in 2015 to protect students from harassment in the transportation sector.
OVAH has now expanded to tackle the prominent issues of sexual abuse and harassment that many girls and young women face daily. OVAH created Mwajuma Simama, an animation series and platform to educate Tanzanian society and lead conversations about sexual abuse. In addition, they provide a web-based system where girls and young women who face sexual harassment from teachers, school staff, and even relatives and neighbors, can report and speak out about these incidents.
For example, in June, it was reported that 100 girls were impregnated in Ruvuma(one of the regions in Tanzania) in just three months after the National school closure due to Covid-19. These 100 girls will no longer be able to continue with their education. If the issue of sexual abuse and harassment continues, there will be a continuous rise of child pregnancies, child marriages, and school dropouts rates. These young girls and young women are subjected to so much violence, trauma, and psychological stress.
According to the 2018 Projected Population done by the National Bureau of Statistics in Tanzania, almost 20% of the population are girls aged between 5-19, this means a certain amount of percentage from the population of 10,840,000 million girls is likely to experience sexual abuse in their homes and schools. Some of the members in this vulnerable group do not even have the basic knowledge of what sexual abuse is and consider the inappropriate actions they incur as normal, which they aren’t. This is one of the reason they do not speak up, victim-blaming behavior is also a big problem in Tanzania which led these girls to stay silent about sexual abuse.
~ Modesta Joseph Msabila
VISION, MISSION & OBJECTIVES
OVAH’s vision is to create a harassment-free nation by eliminating sexual abuse and harassment that girls and women face in Tanzania, thus relieving them of physical and psychological violence, trauma, and pregnancies.
The mission of OVAH is to be the hope of victims of sexual abuse and assault by providing a reporting web-based platform for victims of sexual abuse and harassment to speak up and receive the necessary help, support, and justice, such as legal advice and therapy, at no cost. We hope to improve our Tanzanian communities by raising awareness about the prevalence of these incidents through school seminars, social media, and animation series.
- Raising awareness about the prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment in Tanzanian communities.
- Advocating for harassment-free communities in Tanzania
- Lobbying educational institutions and the government for policies that create a free harassment environment in our communities
- Reducing the number of early and unwanted pregnancies, early marriages, and school dropouts
OVAH in action
OVAH visited schools and conducted seminars about students’ rights, road safety, and reminding the students to raise their voices and collectively speak up about injustices that they face.
The seminar was great. I never knew what is Sumatra and what they are dealing with but now I Know. This helped a lot, At least I know where to turn to incase anything happens. I totally thank Our Cries by making this possible.
Many appreciations to OUR CRIES team. I learned a lot from the seminar, It was really amazing! I am a student and I wasn’t aware of my rights but also I didn’t know the rules which I should consider every time as a road user.
As a student, I have been a victim of these humiliations from drivers and conductors and I didn’t have anyone fighting for me, Even adults in the buses don’t do anything, they just watch as if it entertains.