“I am so happy that everyone in the community realises that they cannot mistreat people without consequences.” These were the words spoken by Andrew* as he recalled the traumatic incident experienced by his cousin, Ruth**.
Andrew was one of the first people in his traditional village who accepted and advocated for messages against gender based violence.
One morning a drunken man went to the garden where Ruth, Andrew’s cousin, was working with her 14-year-old nephew. The drunken man chased off the nephew and then raped Ruth.
World Vision has a program funded by the Australian government and private donations from the Australian public called Relationship Education About Choices and Healing (REACH), which supports faith-based organisations and communities to reduce gender-based violence and support those who have been affected by violence. Andrew is a Faith Leader working with REACH and testifies of how the relationship and line of communication established between the community and the police as a result of the program supported him to seek justice for Ruth.
After Ruth’s rape, a REACH program officer supported Andrew to contact the police on advice to help maintain peace, as Ruth’s family wanted to retaliate. The police then assisted them and on steps to take to support Ruth which included getting a medical examination to check if Ruth had any urgent medical issues and to file a police report.
These steps along with the cooperation of witnesses, support from Andrew, family members and the aid of a lawyer were key in keeping Ruth safe, bringing the perpetrator to justice, and reminding the community of the rights each person has.
Andrew and his family have faced opposition in the community and church for the messages they give out and the actions they take. However Andrew has been determined to continue as he believes his community will be safer.
“I am so grateful for the support [from the REACH program] I receive to carry out this work. The training I have received and the partnerships I have been introduced to enable me to provide support everyone in my community when it comes to gender based violence issues”.
Ruths mother, Phylis said, “Ruth is safe now. We are happy. I now feel that the community will be much safer after what happened.”
Ruth shyly smiled then said, “I am very happy with the way Andrew and my family supported me through all this. It was very hard but they were always there when I needed them.”
*The name has been changed to protect the survivor and her family
**The name has been changed to protect the survivor and her family
*** The name has been changed to protect the survivor and her family