28-year-old Baida Simba has been a journalist at Highlands FM in Mbeya, Tanzania for eight years. In February, she traveled 103km to Kaloleni after hearing that a woman was being pressured to keep quiet about a horrific crime – the rape of her child – to have the matter settled “within the family” rather than in court.
Village chairperson Thobias Katoto encouraged Baida to pursue the story and help the mother seek justice for her child.
In reporting the story, Baida supported the mother to ultimately go to the police. The suspect was apprehended and the case is currently in court.
After airing the story, Highlands FM increased its credibility with rural listeners, some of whom have been urging other local journalists to follow Baida’s example. “Had that incident not been reported, the rapist could have walked free by just paying a little amount of money to the victim’s family,” said Kaloleni resident Anania Mwaisumbe.
According to Highlands FM editor-in-chief Samuel Ndoni, the story gave voice to someone who might otherwise not have received justice. He adds that Internews’ training and mentorships have brought major improvements to the station’s news desk, by encouraging reporters to be proactive and seek out important stories. “Thanks to Internews, we now air three local stories every day.”
A reporter uses new data journalism skills to report on women in sports
In another part of Tanzania, journalist Suzan Moshy decided to put to work the skills she had learned in a data journalism workshop organized by Internews to investigate professional sports. A football fan, Suzan noticed that there seemed to be very few women football referees in Tanzania.
Suzan started crunching numbers found data at regional, national, and international levels which confirmed her suspicions. She showed that in Iringa, where she lives, 84% of referees are male.
Through interviews, she discovered that some women who want to become referees are afraid of physical challenges, but mostly they fear social backlash from the community, who see football as a men’s sport.
When the story aired on Matukio Daima Online TV, the response was swift. Suzan was stunned to get a phone call from the Chairperson of the Football Referees Association of Tanzania, Joseph Mapunda, who told her, “Your story was good. You highlighted a gap. We have decided to increase the number of female referees in Tanzania.”
Mapunda also promised to raise the issue at the association’s General Congress in April, and to urge his fellow delegates from all over the country to discuss how to encourage women to join referee training courses.
“We need to launch an awareness-raising campaign in communities and schools,” says Mapunda. “We need to understand the situation and the challenges women face. We must use our influence to encourage more women to attend referee training.”
Now, Tanzanian woman interested in becoming a referee can register at their local referee’s association for professional training.
Suzan was among the first to sign up.
Internews’ Boresha Habari project is funded by the US Agency for International Development and implemented in partnership with FHI 360. It supports an open environment in which the media promote participation, inclusion, and accountability in Tanzania. The data journalism workshop in Iringa was conducted in partnership with digital media company Nukta Africa.
(Banner photo: Through her reporting, journalist Baida Simba sought justice for a victim of sexual violence. Credit: Internews)