Using Animation to Curb Sexual Corruption
By OVAH Tanzania
18 August 2023
"Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story."
This is a powerful assertion by Janet Litherland that rightly applies to Awareness and Advocacy Interventions for Gender-Based Violence in Tanzania (Elimika na Mwajuma) project, implemented by Our Voices Against Harassment (OVAH) since 2020, with the primary goal to raise awareness about sexual violence in Tanzanian communities.
The project uses the storytelling approach, with narratives that mirror reality and speak on behalf of people who lack the courage to express themselves, help to reshape mindsets, and advocate for safer, violence-free communities. It uses Mwajuma Simama Animation as a medium to educate and raise awareness about gender-based violence, rape culture, and sexual corruption in the community.
The first three episodes of Elimika na Mwajuma explored sexual corruption, early marriages, and rape culture. They were disseminated through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp, and radio, thus also challenging the misconceptions of gender-based violence.
The Mwajuma animation reveals the reality of these issues in communities, ways for society to adapt changed attitudes towards violence against women, and vivid examples of how victims can come forward and report, while also urging the society to create a better, violence-free environment for girls and women.
Elimika na Mwajuma is the continuation of OVAH’s groundbreaking animated series, Mwajuma Simama. The original series consisted of five episodes that focused on creating awareness about sexual violence. It told the story of Mwajuma, who endured sexual assault by her uncle, faced blame from those close to her, but ultimately received support to report the incident and seek help. She later became an educator, sharing her experiences and encouraging others to speak up against gender-based violence.
Elimika na Mwajuma adopted a different approach compared to Mwajuma Simama. While both animations aimed at raising awareness about gender-based violence, each episode of Elimika na Mwajuma tackled a distinct topic related to sexual and gender-based violence. The objective was to shed light on seldom-discussed issues in our society, primarily due to a lack of awareness and the persistence of deeply ingrained patriarchal systems in our institutions and culture.
As a result and leveraging the educational power of animation stories, OVAH successfully screened the Mwajuma Simama series for 1,398 children and young women. Additionally, the animation reached an online audience of 180,654 individuals, with the majority falling between the ages of 18 and 35. The success of this approach, particularly among adolescents and youth, inspired the organization to do more.
During screenings, a sense of surprise and guilt among the audience was observed. Even individuals who considered themselves well-informed, including GBV advocates and feminists, realized that they had once engaged in victim-blaming by attributing blame to survivors based on their choice of clothing and other factors.
To date, a total of 3,054 adolescents, youth, and women, have been impacted, reaching over 45,524 viewers through online platforms. Animations serve as effective and inclusive educational tools, transforming abstract concepts into tangible and relatable experiences. Visual stimuli evoke emotional responses, contributing to lasting memories. Furthermore, the digital format enables easy dissemination of knowledge in today's digital world.
With Elimika na Mwajuma, the main aim is to transform mindsets and behaviors regarding gender-based violence, while challenging misconceptions that perpetuate its prevalence in Tanzanian society. The engagement and responses received indicate the significant impact that Elimika na Mwajuma is having on dismantling societal norms and sparking crucial conversations.
“Generally, through training and workshops using animation content, we were able to reach and educate 1,441 children, adolescents, and women in Arusha, Shinyanga, Dar es Salaam, and Dodoma. We were able to reach more than 41,232 people by distributing the videos through an online platform. Changing mindsets and attitudes toward Sexual Corruption, Early Marriages, and Inmate-Partner Violence were observed as we engaged with the beneficiaries through offline and online methods”.
“We are proud of the progress we have made, but we recognize that there is still much work ahead. By leveraging the power of animation as an educational tool and addressing vital yet under-discussed topics related to gender-based violence, we strive to contribute to lasting social change and the prevention of gender-based violence in our society”. explained