WAJIKI, is a Community Based Organization (CBO) led by women in Mwananyamala, a suburb in Kinondoni district, Dar es Salaam Tanzania that largely draws its membership from women in grass roots communities, men and youth from Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs,) Women’s Economic Empowerment Groups such as the Village Community Banks (VICOBA), Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA - Hisa Groups) and Bodaboda (Motor Cycle drivers. Its core membership comprises of 12 women involved in informal and small-scale business activities.
WAJIKI received a grant of Tsh 7,000,000 from Women Fund Tanzania which assisted them to organize a series of workshops to raise awareness of men and women including officials from the nearby police gender desk, and street leaders in the surrounding communities of Mwananyamala. They managed to reach out to 5,000 girls and women as well as 54,599 people within the communities in this location. These groups got training on sextortion, its legal manifestations and its effects, as well as the role of communities in fighting sextortion.
With the knowledge gained, WAJIKI embarked on an innovative “Door to Door” campaign by forming 4 Pressure Groups at ward level divided and organised into four streets: Kopa Street, Bwawani Street, Msisiri A Street and Msisiri B Street. These community groups involved women, men, local government authorities and the police. The formed groups, which were in total of 464 people (352 women and 112 men) participated in the campaign and in total visited about 900 households at ward level to raise awareness about sextortion, which is worth emulating. From this exercise, families in Mwananyamala communities understood that sextortion is a crime and that it needs to be reported. It is during these campaigns that hidden cases of sextortion among the communities were discovered as they started to openly discuss cases of sextortion within themselves. In this community, sextortion is no longer considered something secretive as communities have recognized that sextortion is harmful to women, girls and their families, and it must be reported and legal action taken against the culprits.
These actions have influenced Ward and Street leaders to hold meetings with the communities to discuss development issues, including issues of Gender Based Violence and sextortion. About 5,464 men and women attended these meetings. This added to women’s confidences and nowadays majority of women and girls in Mwananyamala communities are no longer shy or afraid to report personal experiences of sextortion.
Following are a few examples of cases of sextortion that came to the fore after communities were educated by WAJIKI and their awareness about the harm of sextortion were raised:
Anna (not her real name) reported that she was asked for sex by a doctor in one of the Hospitals in Kinondoni area in return for him to treat her mentally sick mother. Anna refused to comply, and the doctor continued to harass her till she decided to go back to the village with her sick mother without treatment rather than succumb to the doctor’s demands.
Cynthia (not her real name) a resident at Mwananyamala in Kinondoni, reported that she was asked for sexual favours by her Chinese boss. She agreed to do so, only to her horror, to find that there was not one but a couple Chinese men who forced her to have sex with all of them. Cynthia was agonized, but remained silent as she feared to be fired from her job.
Asha(not her real name) who resides in one of the suburbs in Kinondoni area applied for a job at an Embassy in Dar es Salaam. One of the Embassy staff asked for sexual favours with a promise that she will get the job that she applied for. Asha had no choice but to comply as she desperately needed a job. When she went back to the Embassy to get the reply to her application, she was shocked to find a notice at the Embassy that there were no vacancies. Asha burst out crying at the Embassy premises. Embassy staff asked her what her problem was, when she narrated that one of the Embassy staff had promised her a job in return for sexual favours. She named the culprit, whereby the Embassy summarily dismissed him from his employment. It was clear that Asha was vindicated and was informed that there was no vacancy for the job she applied for.
Mariam (not her real name) also from Kinondoni reported to the police when she was robbed. The police demanded sexual favors in return for follow up of her case. Mariam got fed up with the Police’s demands and stopped pursuing her case. Mariam was denied justice at the police station.