From where I stand: “My hope is to be able to reach out to many women and girls who don’t report their cases to us. I want to tell them that they have a choice”
Veronica Charles Mfuko experienced domestic violence, which inspired her to become a women’s rights activist focusing on ending violence against women in Tanzania.
“I always wanted to devote my life to assisting women in danger as someone who majored in Gender and Development in university. This determination strengthened after I experienced domestic abuse from my ex-husband. I learned the hard way that marriage is not a life sentence, so in 2014, I made the decision to stand on my own, and started working for a non-governmental organization (NGO) focusing on women’s economic empowerment. One of the projects we worked on was building a shelter in Shinyanga (a city in northern Tanzania) for orphan girls with albinism, who were often subjected to senseless acts of violence. We also provided food, clothing, and education to women entrepreneurs and homemakers who experienced economic hardship in Dodoma, Mtwara, and Mwanza regions.
In 2017, I moved to the government sector as a Community Development Officer, so that I could interact more closely with survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). Now, I address cases of violence against women and girls, such as early marriage, rape, and domestic abuse in the community. My role is to sit with the survivors and offenders, transport survivors to hospitals, and file police reports. I also try my best to play a role in prevention of violence. I am proud that once a colleague and I were able to stop an illegal early marriage. A man in our community was trying to marry an underage girl, so we tracked down the venue, reported the case to the police, and the man was arrested.
My work is very fulfilling, because I can see the difference I make in people’s lives, giving them prompt assistance through our social welfare programmes. But there is a lot more work to be done. My hope is to be able to reach out to the many women and girls who don’t report their cases to us. I want to tell them that they have a choice. For them to see through my example, that there are other options, and that there are many of us working tirelessly to support them.