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Partner empowers women against rape

Hellen Tanyinga is the founder of Rape Hurts Foundation in Uganda.

October 22, 2020

By Christine Hills

Hellen Lunkuse W. Tanyinga says she didn’t have a childhood at all. “I had to learn keen survivor skills as early as five years because my father was a serial abuser, beater and polygamous, having fathered way over 30 children.” At 11, her father wanted to marry her off to the man who had raped her. “I had nobody to stand up for me, till my mother risked her marriage and everything to save me.”

In 2008, Tanyinga founded Rape Hurts Foundation (RHF) as a community-based organization in Jinja District, Uganda. Though Uganda ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, Ugandan women – 51% of the population – do not enjoy the same opportunities as men. One quarter of women ages 15 to 49 have experienced physical intimate partner violence with less than 15% of cases being reported. Rape affects children and young women:

  • 40% of all survivors are under 18
  • 16% are under 12

PWRDF is partnering with RHF to support its work of empowering women to manage their social‐economic development through strengthening human rights awareness, health care, community participation and advocacy. Addressing women’s rights and sexual and gender-based violence is at the core of their work.

Together, RHF and PWRDF will focus on women and youth in Eastern Uganda and provide education and awareness about Gender-Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation, human trafficking and modern day slavery, human rights abuses and social-economic exploitation.

The budget allocated to RHF is $25,000 over a one-year period. During that time RHF will engage 8,000 women and 5,000 youth, mostly victims and survivors or caretakers of victims and survivors, and some males in a series of awareness activities, events and sessions. The project will also include:

  • linking 6,000 women and 3,000 youth to legal aid and court services
  • producing two educational manuals
  • increasing income in 80% of participants

“In the worldwide effort for gender equity, this women’s empowerment and reduction of GBV project will go a long way by receiving PWRDF support,” says Zaida Bastos, PWRDF’s Director, Development Partnership Program. “RHF is one of those community-based organizations that usually obtains great results with small amounts of funds.”​

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