Words from OVAH's Founder
Our Voices Against Harassment was previously known as OurCries Initiative. OVAH was founded to give students an opportunity to speak up and report all harassments they face from bus drivers and conductors through our web-based system. OVAH’s founder responded to this issue of student harassment after she nearly lost a close friend—she was almost run-over by a bus when the bus conductor pushed her out. In 2015, She started to advocate for a supportive learning environment for students in Tanzania.
Our Cries is now expanding sexual harassment, a prominent problem in our country Tanzania. Girls and young women face sexual harassment from teachers and staff in schools and from relatives and neighbors at home. We believe a first step to tackle sexual harassment is when one can open up and speak up about these harassments.
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 end student harassment in Tanzania.
Give the tools and medium for every child in Tanzania to report every humiliation and harassment they experience for justice to take place.
To raise awareness about the harassment and abuse young people face in different sectors in Tanzania, provide a reporting platform for young people to raise their voices and to find the right help for the victims of physical and sexual abuse and harassment.
OVAH in action
In our year of advocacy (2016-2017), we 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.
What OVAH has achieved so far
OVAH (Our Cries) has operated for 5 years even though it has been mostly active for 3 years (2015 – 2018). We are happy to have achieved what we have achieved so far!
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.