By Jennifer Robinson
It has been just over three years since the launch of Attacked Not Defeated and our contributor and ally to the charity Jennifer Robinson reflects on the progress made so far and exciting things to come.
August 2012: “I’ve had this idea.” This was the very beginning, the first time Phoebe shared her idea to launch a charity to provide comprehensive care for rape survivors and to detach stigma from sexual assault. This was the beginning of a long and challenging journey and the realisation of the hard work that goes in to starting a charity from scratch. The actual process of making a difference can be really boring at times with lots of paperwork!
January 2013: AND was officially launched at the White Lion in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, with the launch event raising almost £5,000. This was the first time Phoebe spoke publicly about her personal experience and her desire to provide a voice for survivors of sexual violence in Kampala. The generosity of all who took part meant that Attacked Not Defeated’s work could really get started. Around this time we started thinking more about social media and how to communicate our message.
February 2013: AND staged a flash mob in a major shopping centre in Kampala, as part of the One Billion Rising global campaign to end violence against women. Over 30 women from all over the world danced, choreographed brilliantly by Eddy Isingoma.
April 2013: In April 2013, Phoebe met the talented and passionate Ugandan lawyer Shafir Yiga, who subsequently became the charity’s advisor and advocate. He drafted AND’s official Constitution and has been assisting us ever since, using his experience and knowledge to support our development.
May 2013: AND’s official website was launched, providing an invaluable platform for us to share our progress and allow people to donate directly.
August 2013: A sponsored cycle ride from Aylesbury to Africa raised over £2,000 towards our cause.
December 2013: Work began on our documentary Shattered Glass – (see top of page) which involved speaking to survivors and high profile activists from Uganda and the wider world. An eye opening film highlighting key issues surrounding sexual and gender based violence in Uganda.
Another exciting December milestone was the beginning of our partnership with The Clare Foundation. The collaboration meant that we were able to begin operating, fundraising and really planning the future of the organisation.
“I founded the charity on pure unadulterated passion, and the first year was definitely a big learning curve for me. I had moments where I thought how am I going to do this? But I have never lost sight of what I want to do and my vision. I just always try to remember that change has to start with one person.” Phoebe Tansley
September 2014: Phoebe hosted a black-tie fundraising event called The Pearl Ball. This was to screen the newly finished Shattered Glass documentary and was accompanied by a three course African-fusion dinner and an auction. This wonderful event raised £8,319.52, which was enough to run the charity for a year.
January 2015: After a successful feature interview with news-site This One Time, Phoebe launched the AND blog to continue the charity’s contribution to the discussion of sexual violence and gender issues. With a committed and inspired pool of individual writers from across the globe, the blog covers topics from tampon tax to arranged marriage in the 21st century and aims to engage supporters on the issues that we are tackling.
February 2015: Our first paid employee – Vivian, started working as our Country Manager. She oversees the day-to-day running of the organisation and keeps all of us in line. It was very exciting for us to have someone who was actually paid to work for AND, to dedicate time to it and ensure that it grows.
April 2015: In one of our most exciting milestones, Phoebe was interviewed for the institution that is Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. When it aired, not only did her interview generate over £2,500 of private donations in just 48 hours, but she spoke beautifully, calmly and eloquently about her personal experiences and her efforts in supporting survivors of sexual violence in the UK and Uganda. I count listening to her interview among one of my proudest moments in my three years with AND.
The Present: Country Manager Vivian Kukunda gives us some insight of day to day operations in Uganda.
– Personal Safety Initiatives: We are working to empower women to protect themselves through the use of the personal alarms, self defence classes, and self awareness workshops. We do not believe that the onus should be on the woman to physically overcome an attacker, but we feel strongly that assertiveness and a strong sense of self are the best protective factors a person can be equipped with. In the future we hope to also look into safe, subsidised transport. In March 2015 we carried out a focus group to pinpoint the safety concerns of women in Kampala. We have also worked with FitClique Africa -the first exclusively women’s gym in Uganda- and ACODEV to conduct a workshop on increasing the safety of sex workers who live and work in Uganda’s border town of Kasese in Mpondwe-Lubhiriha.
– Young Men’s Workshops: Under the YMW program, we are developing
workshops that will contain various discussions and activities around the topic of gender based violence, equality, rights, responsibilities, conflict resolution and respect. We strongly believe that in order to create positive change on SGBV matters, it is essential to involve men to inspire change. Before this is done, AND is conducting a baseline study in form of focus groups, to gage attitudes of boys in Kampala aged 15-18. So far we have carried out focus groups in partnership with Action for Fundamental Change and Development and Old Kampala Secondary School. The information we are gathering from these focus groups is going to shape the curriculum for the workshops we are starting at the end of the year.
When terrible things happen, the concept of moving on tends to revolve around ‘getting back to normal’. Going back is never an option but you can choose how to move forwards. Anger is a deeply unhelpful emotion, but a powerful motivator. I was and am still angry about what happened to my friend, but I am proud of the grace and strength she has demonstrated in the time since.
So now we have reached the third birthday of Attacked Not Defeated; her vision to change so much for so many. As Phoebe herself noted in her February post on our blog, while it may not be apparent to others, she had many luxuries at her disposal in the aftermath. What if you have to go back to work? What if you don’t have insurance to cover your medical costs? What if you have never been told that you have a fundamental right as a human being to not be raped?
Many, many women and young girls in Uganda are raped every day. Almost 60% of women here will experience sexual or domestic violence between the ages of 15 and 49 [p.242 Uganda Demographics and Health Survey, 2011]. This is a very widespread problem and we are by no means the only people tackling it; we understand that we cannot stop rape from happening.
What we CAN do is tackle the attitude which leads to sexual and gender based violence in the first place. We can provide a service which will not blame anyone for what has happened to them. We can provide a secure refuge, an understanding and sensitive approach to clinical care, and ongoing advice and support.
Sometimes all it takes is a reassuring hand on the shoulder, to let someone know they are not alone.
If you’d like to help us to be there for women in need of support or help us fight the root causes of sexual violence in Uganda – please donate via our website and spread the word on social media.