NUMAT’s story on Half the Sky Competition

In Uganda, an estimated 39% of all young women aged 15-49 have experienced sexual violence according to recent statistics. Particularly, in Northern Uganda, rape and domestic violence have been exacerbated by the armed conflict. The Northern Uganda Malaria AIDS & Tuberculosis Programme (NUMAT) is a USAID-funded Programme managed by John Snow, Inc, a global health care consulting company, dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS in the region. One of its interventions is through supporting vulnerable communities in hard-to-reach areas through raising awareness on sexual & gender-based violence and promptly responding to the needs of the survivors such as 14 year old Susan Alero (a pseudonym). Here is her story:

On 30th June 2008, Susan vividly remembers being beaten and raped by Janan Luwum an immediate neighbor who is twice her age. The incident took place at her grandmother’s home in Awere sub county camp, one of the many internally displaced people camps of Northern Uganda, while her grandmother was away attending a funeral. A NUMAT-trained Community Resources Person (CORP) was informed and counseled Susan, subsequently linking her to nearby Pajule Health Center IV where she received Post Exposure Prophylaxis medicine to prevent the possible transmission of HIV virus. The CORP also followed up Susan in the community to ensure she adhered to the medications for the required time. Fortunately, she turned out to be HIV negative. Janan, the perpetrator, was reported to police who arrested him. He is now awaiting trial in court. Overall, if it wasn’t for NUMAT’s support in training CORPs & scaling up of HIV and AIDS services in Pajule Health Center IV while bringing them closer to vulnerable populations, Susan would undoubtedly not have been able to receive the much needed support.

Susan, now back to school in Primary 4, is being treated of an eye infection she sustained during the battering. In spite of the trauma Susan endured, she is still optimistic on her life’s goal, “I want to stay at school until I also become a teacher, because teachers are so helpful”.

NUMAT has continued to raise awareness of the plight of young girls who are particularly more vulnerable to effects of sexual and gender based violence. To date, the Program has reached over 194,000 individuals with sexual & gender-based violence messages. It has also supported 240 survivors, of these the majority being cases of wife battering.


This post was originally published by The New York Times on September 23, 2010

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