Anna was walking home from the women’s centre where she went to find a safe and quiet place to study when she was mugged by two boys on a boda-boda motorcycle. It was the middle of the afternoon, but this stretch of road was unusually quiet. Anna was 20. She had lived in this area for years. She knew the risks, and she was always cautious. She was shocked from the incident and physically shaken – she was bruised from the force of her bag being taken at speed and worried about replacing what had been taken.
She returned to the study centre, crying. Someone comforted her, and they arranged for a group of girls to walk back with her that day – they should be safe in a group.
Evelina, the study club’s director said, “Well, this is why we always have a watchman. We know that we will always be safe here”.
Fatima, another team member, said, “Actually, this is our responsibility too – we can’t serve this community if the young women are not safe walking to and from this place. We are only providing this safe study space because we know it is hard for young women to find safe places to study”.
Evelina responded, “These young women are adults. They can make that choice for themselves”.
Fatima responded, “Yes, they are adults, but we must make them aware of these risks. Our staff may also be at risk. We should at least recommend that they walk here and back in groups.”
“This is not our job. They are adults, and this was just a one-off incident. Bad things happen in this area all the time. They aren’t children”.
The next day, three girls lost their bags in similar incidents to Anna on their way home, in the same area. Two had even been walking together, and when they tried to defend themselves got badly hurt. The students shared this like wildfire through Whatsapp. The next day no one came to the study club. Evelina was convinced that this would change, but for a whole week, no one came. Evelina and Fatima discussed what they could do. These young women still needed a safe place to study. That hadn’t changed. They realised that they needed to consult the students. What would make them feel safe?
- Is this a safeguarding issue?
- What is the club’s obligation to these students?
- What is the club’s responsibility in protecting young women in its projects outside of the activities?
- What would funders or supporters of the project think of this approach?
- Strategically, what should they do?