Diakonia - People change the world
Matilde Matilde discusses women's rights with her peers.

The right to a life free of violence

When people know their rights, it can change their lives. As part of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, Diakonia’s team in Mozambique has shared this story about Matilde who knows that she has the right to a life free of violence.

12/7/2015 Publisher: Jenny Enarsson

 - Men who commit rape and sexual abuse have to go to prison.

Matilde is twelve years old. She lives in the Zambézia province of Mozambique. In spite of her young age, she already sees herself as an activist and in her community everyone knows that she is constantly talking to other girls about their rights.

Was raped by her teacher

Matilde knows from her own experience how important it is for girls to be familiar with the right to a life free of violence. Matilde’s teacher – a man who was supposed to provide education and protection for her – raped her.

When Matilde was trying to find a way to overcome what had happened, she faced a difficult decision. Should she report the rapist to the police or not? She knew that if she reported the crime and the police didn’t act on it, she would risk facing revenge. She also knew the kind of attitudes about rape that prevailed in her community, and how little knowledge there was about women’s rights. If she spoke up, she would probably be the one blamed for the rape – especially by girls and boys her own age. That prospect felt even worse than the possible revenge from the rapist. 

Aware of her rights

But Matilde had already been learning about her rights from Diakonia’s partner Nucleo dos Amigos do Meio Ambiente, NANA. The things that Matilde had learnt from NANA made a difference to her decision. She knew she had the right to a life free of violence. She knew she had the right to make decisions about her body. She knew that the only person responsible for a rape is the rapist. She knew she had nothing to be ashamed of. 

So despite all the risks, she decided to report the rape. She was supported by NANA, by teachers in her area, by the local authority in charge of domestic violence, and by other girls from her school. She was able to get medical care and psychological assistance, and she was also supported in the legal process. The case against the man who raped Matilde is still ongoing.   When Matilde started to feel better she decided to use what had happened to spread knowledge and help other girls. She shares her own story in order to get her message through. – I tell other girls to always report any case of violence or sexual abuse.

Matilde’s real name has been withheld to protect her anonymity.