Source: The Guardian / IPP Media
Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela's widow and founder of the Graca Machel Trust has said since Tanzania is in the process of reviewing its constitution, oppressive laws on women and children should also be reviewed and amended Tanzania is among 20 leading countries in child marriage cases with statistics showing that for every five girls, two are married under the age of 18.

Speaking yesterday in Dar es Salaam during the launch of the National Ending Child Marriage Campaign which will start kicks-off tomorrow in Mara Region, she said Tanzania was in the frontline in the fight pursuit for independence from colonialists, it should also have the same spirit in the fight against gender violence.

She said although Tanzania is economically poor it must also step up in human rights protection especially this time when the economy is performing well.
The former South African First Lady noted that the ongoing constitutional review process is an important opportunity for the nation to rid itself of all oppressive laws on women and girls which she noted facilitate gender based violence.

According to Machel, the members of the Constitutional Assembly (CA) have no excuse when it comes to reviewing and changing oppressive gender laws.
"It is time we put away conservative leaders who are elected by citizens and become barriers to positive changes especially on gender issues," she said.
Third phase President, Benjamin Mkapa who was in attendance of the launch said girls have constitutional rights that ought to be protected and that leaders must respect and observe girls' rights.

Also in attendance was the Community Development, Gender and Children Minister, Sophia Simba who said that child marriage is a cross cutting issue and the government in its efforts to fight the has been implementing the Maputo Protocol which recognizes a child as a person who is below 18 years.

Simba added that the government has put in place numerous initiatives to save girls and women including the 2015 vision that incorporated gender equality as a national priority issue. Others are child the policy of 2009 and Sexual Offences Special Provision Act (SOSPA) of 1998.

The national ending child marriage campaign is branded 'Child Marriage Free Zone' and is initiated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Graca Machel Trust (GMT), Children Dignity Forum (GDF), Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA), Mara region authorities and Mara region Civil Society Organisations.

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