A safe space is a secure environment where girls share their issues and get advice from mentors and freely share their experiences on rape and violence. Sumaya’s story is unbelievable but of course true!
Sumaya lives in Busasamana Sector, Nyanza district. she is 14 years old and studies in primary six. She is the first born in her family. She has four siblings and lives with both her parents. Sumaya’s mother is a farmer who grows food for home consumption and her father works with trucks owners to load and unload goods.
“I used to think that violence was about beating someone to death and that rape was having forced sexual intercourses with someone. My mother is hot tempered and always slaps us when we do mistakes, but I did not know that it was violence! I was ignorant about the other forms of violence but from school clubs, I learnt the four forms of violence, how they are done and their consequences,” Sumaya said.
“In safe spaces, we learnt techniques of talking to parents especially when we show them their mistakes and make them listen to us. I am practicing this with my hot-tempered mother. About rape, I learnt that the survivor of this form of violence should be taken to hospital, as soon as possible, for protection against pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections. On this form of violence, we were also taught to keep the evidences by not bathing before going to hospital,” she added.
Sumaya kept on saying that, through safe spaces, she
has learnt that self-respect and respecting others is very important in
society. She also learnt how to listen to others when they are sharing their
ideas and to never interrupt someone speaking out from his or her mind.
“My mother is so stubborn and hot tempered that I was always afraid to ask her anything about reproductive health. She does not hold any discussion with me at all. So, I was very happy when I saw my mentor. My mentor is so good, approachable and advises me. She trained me on how to use a sanitary pad and how to maintain hygiene during this period,” Sumaya said.
According to Sumaya, bringing men and women together for a conversation on violence would be the best way to prevent it.
Speak Out Project
Speak Out Project is implemented by ActionAid Rwanda in partnership with Faith Victory Association and Rwanda Girl Guides Association, with funding from the UK Aid.The club facilitator is a teacher who voluntarily delivers sessions on GBV and SRHR in school clubs. School clubs are made of girls and boys.