A Community Health Volunteer championing fight against SGBV
By Charles Mundia
Norah Mudanya works partly as a community health volunteer and a hairdresser in Kibera’s Silanga area. Besides collecting data on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in schools as well as giving assistance to victims of SGBV.
“I started working as a CHV in 2004. I saw the need to protect victims of GBV in my community who were abused while the perpetrators go free. I got a chance to join a certain women group in Soweto here in Kibera who were focused on spreading awareness on the same issue in schools as well as providing health care services to survivors of GBV,” she explained.
Norah goes to different educational institutions to teach young girls on how to protect themselves against violence either at home or in school. Sometimes she gets them to open up on something that has happened to them or still continue to happen that they have disclosed from their parents or guardian for fear of either being mocked or blamed for it.
“Most victim of SGBV do not speak up for different reasons. Some fear being mocked while others feel ashamed of themselves. We go to schools to hear what they are passing through during school time or even at home. Telling them first that it’s not something to be ashamed of because it’s not their fault. We emphasize that they speak up to either their parents or someone they trust about it so they get assistance,” Norah said.
According to Norah, experiences of pupils being abused by familiar people are common. “During one of our session’s one of the pupil spoke of how she was being sexually assaulted by one of the male teachers in the school. The irony of that was that the teacher in question was the same one foreseeing our sessions in the school. The child had been abused for a period of time and also been threatened not to say anything or else they will be killed,’’ she narrates.
In helping such survivors, Norah and her companions have to first report the matter to the area chief then continue to help the victims with counseling and any other aid needed. Before any action is taken a report if made first to the area chief, after which the victim is taken to the health facility for medical examination.
Norah, however, cites the challenge of effectively reporting on GBV matters as some cases involve close family members. “Another challenge will be sometimes the victims refuse legal assistance especially after being influenced by the family. Also, it is not easy to reach out to communities especially those deeply rooted in their culture with practices that count as violence such as wife battering.”
The CHV calls on survivors of SGBV to speak up. She urges parents to give their children enough time to share with them what they go through every day.
Norah wants to be remembered for protecting the rights of every child and empowering them to know that NO MEANS NO to SGBV to both gender and also be part of a community that is strong and powerful fighting against Sexual and Gender Based Violence .