Pangani District Council and other Government organs have been advised against putting hurdles on the work of a non-government organization, UZIKWASA that is spearheading efforts to change traditional mindsets that hinder people, especially women and children form speaking out freely against gender-based violence and other social abuses.

The advice was given by the Deputy Minister for Water and Irrigation, Jumaa Awesso when he spoke at a ceremony to award best performing Village Multisectoral Aids, Gender and Leadership Committees (VMACs) held at Msaraza village in Bushiri Ward of Pangani District.

He said that UZIKWASA is responsible for changing mindsets of the people as regards gender-based violence, early marriages, early pregnancies and other social abuses in the society. “It is very difficult to separate the development of a freedom to speak out on various issues on the people and the work of UZIKWASA,” Awesso, who is also the Member of Parliament for Pangani, pointed out.

He said that he know that the organization has some challenges that hinder its work and called oin the Council and other Government organs to work closely with UZIKWASA which is spearheading the transformation of a society that was previously regarded as having fear of speaking out.

Awesso said that the Pangani society would suffer a heavy loss if it cuts down the work of the organization which has trained village leaderships on responsible and transformative leadership and enabled people to speak out on abuses that have been going for years in the society.

He said the work of the organization has had an impact on increase in reported cases of rape and oithe abuses in the district. He said the number of cases that have been reported this was 58 but 38 out of them have been stalling because culprits have been reported to escape.

Speaking at the occasion, a young person, identified as a Child Ambassador, Athumani Juma commended UZIKWASA for initiating the formation of a ‘Safe System’ in schools which enables school children to report incidences of abuse to authorities.

He told the audience, including members of VMACs from 12 villages that 51 cases of abuse against children have been reported from January this year. Thoruhg the safe system initiated by expanded School Committees trained by the organization.

Reading the children’s message, Juma said that action has been taken against people who perpetrated the incidents against children he mentioned as including harsh penalties, denying food to children by parents and caretakers, missing meals at school, beatings, burning, sexual abuse, rape, sodomy, touching of sensitive body spots and name calling against children.

He mentioned other such incidents to bewildered audience who included members of 12 VMACs as being denied money for various expenses at school, being given hard work and being burned in sensitive spots using being pricked using sharp tools.

Juma said that it was a sad that in some incidences were being perpetrated by those who were supposed to protect children and make sure they get better education sometimes turned against those children by abusing them.

“Headteachers, patron and matron teachers and big age school children, out of schoo youth, including bodaboda drivers and adults in the streets and homes are all culprits in abusing school children. School girls were the main victims, leading to psychological effects that lead to these children absconding and engage in risky jobs,’ he said

The Child Ambassador called on the Government, private institutions and activists to continue to give awareness education and create an official system that would give school children a chance to be heard as regards to their challenges they face

Msaraza VMAC scooped the first prize of Sh. 700,000 for best performing VMAC for the year 2017, follwed by Mwera which scooped Sh. 600,000 and Mkwajuni Sh. 500,000.
Kajunason Blog

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