Source: IPP Media
Cases of gender based violence (GBV) in Tanzania are upsetting even with unyielding longer prison terms doled out on perpetrators.

Despite the consequences of ongoing campaigns, especially by civil society organisations, activists and even the government, cases of GBV are still on the raise. Moreover, child abuse and wife battering have remained major challenges, thus affecting the development of children and women.

Child neglect, defilements, rape, sodomy and incest, physical and emotional abuse as well as early marriages are increasing despite stern measures taken by courts of law for sentencing the offenders to longer jail terms of up to 30 years.

Indeed, such longer jails meted out on culprits by courts, cases of GBV have remained unchanged, continuing to bulge across communities.

Nyangeta Chacha* bears physical and emotional disfigurements in the wake of a traumatic rape she suffered three years ago when a local radio presenter in Musoma district, Mara region raped her.

Regardless of 'fatal' injuries she suffered, Nyangeta could not reveal her ordeal even to her parent who had been supportive to her education career.

She had also failed to proclaim her situation until a month later when she noticed some changes in her body that included missing her period, and becoming sensitive to smell.
"I told my mother who later called me to examine my urine with at- home pregnancy test (I did not understand in the first instance), but miserably later it was revealed that I was pregnant."

Nyangeta was scared of her farther. She had dropped from school and her future had turned unexplainable.

Nyangeta's father came up in arms over news that his daughter was pregnant.

The 16 year- old mother of one child laments that his father filed a case to the police post in Musoma but due to prolonged delays that most of GBV victims face across the country he sought support from a Non-Government Organisation – Centre for widows and children assistance (CWCA)

CWCA Executive Director Uti Mwang'amba told this paper things got shoddier over and over after it came to senses that Nyangeta's father had already pocketed some money from the perpetrator.

"It was a big challenge, given that we had to follow up to the police, regional crime officer–RCO and to Musoma state attorney.

"The culprit offered the money (not disclosed) so he could not be sent to police and even settled the matter before reaching the court chamber," explains Mwang'amba. "Under the rules of Tanzania's statute books–the Sexual Offences (Special Provisions) Act 1998 the accused had to face a 30years imprisonment."

Such civil and criminal laws had some gaps that perpetuate GBV, adds Mwang'amba.
Such a helpless girl had already had a child from the accused ...flashing light that the money that Nyangeta's father received from the culprit's family might land into revenge.
It was further established that, giving a longer jail to the radio presenter, now accused, would not help Nyangeta who has to answer the multibillion dollars question on how she could take care of herself, her born child and attend classes at the same time.

"Such penalty would be a corporal punishment to the accused but the victim would continue to suffer with the kid," admits Mwang'amba who went on saying: "We had to seek for alternative punishment."

"We agreed with State Attorney, RCO, parents and the accused that: the accused should pay school fees of the child from secondary to her university studies, take care of the child by providing all basic needs and services to a newly born child. We agreed that failure to meet the requirement the accused shall face the 30years jail penalty."

From the date of agreement whereby the accused signed the agreement note to date the accused has been providing all the needed services to a born child and paying the school fees to a girl child who had ostensibly performed well in her primary school national exams.

Nyangeta's story paints unsettling picture of the plight of thousands of women and children in the country who are increasingly becoming victims of gender based violence.
Figures from the Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) Tanzania Chapter shows that about 6,001 cases on gender based violence were reported in 2012 as compared to 3,542 in 2011.

Previously, GBV was prone to women and children but today even men are victims and one wonders what is causing such vices to keep growing.

The rising rate of crime despite severe penalties tends to suggest that human beings cannot be controlled by the law alone.

In an emotional testimony, Amina Waryoba also a resident of Musoma narrates that at the age of 15 she was forced by his father to be married to a man that her father had already received dowry.

After the matter was reported to the police, both the farther and the expected husband run away and that the case has not been concluded today.

Other incidence of the recent past include a mother in Majengo suburb in Mbeya, Bahati Rukangala who is held for pouring hot water to a 3 years old helpless child, locking him inside her house and forcing the kid to eat his poop.

Hellen Kitiso (42) was mysteriously murdered by his husband while asleep in Dodoma due to family conflicts.

A recently toolkit on 'stopping the abuse of power for purposes of sexual exploitation: naming, shaming, and ending sextortion' prepared by the Tanzania Women Judges Association (TWJA) has clearly stated that despite the government ratifying to local and international conversions on protecting rights of all people, still there were challenges in fulfilling statute requirements.

We need to change other aspects of social life, TWJA suggest pointing out that legal protection from gender based violence is primarily based on two acts.

"...The Law of Marriage Act prohibits a spouse from inflicting corporal punishment on his/her spouse. However, the law it does not protect unmarried couples from domestic violence, and it does not define corporal punishment, thereby excluding many forms of domestic violence such as economic deprivation.

"In additional, the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act (SOSPA) criminalises various forms of gender based violence, including rape, sexual assault and harassment, prostitution, female genital cutting and sex trafficking."

Above all legislations, hours of operation and/or location of the court, difficulty in obtaining certification from a medical doctor, delay in court procedures, plus monetary sanctions imposed against perpetrators still poses barriers in the legal system impeding the victims' ability to access justice.

Speaking to journalists on a sideline of a conference held in Bagamoyo recently, Dr Monica Mhoja Deputy Chief of Party/Technical Director –Engender Health Champion Project conceded several laws which inhibit gender equality and justices' back-ups among GBV victims in the country.

"Established laws and policies have gaps that allow gender inequalities thus leading to GBV – a human rights abuse. Again the provisions that address gender equality issues are not sufficiently enforced," she noted.

She went on saying: Laws and policies such as the Cultural policy, 1997 is silent about bad cultural practices that perpetuate gender discrimination. "The Child Development Policy, 1996, is silent about child widows. Subsequently there is neither a policy nor a programme targeting child-widows."

In additional, Mhoja who is an
advocate challenged the law of marriage Act, 1971 saying it allows child marriages: female children at the age of 14 or 15 years. ... It does not speak about domestic violence despite the high prevalence and it remains silent on marital rape.

But Valerie Msoka Executive Director for a non-profit organisation Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) says the positive strides that Tanzania had made to address GBV even through the proposed constitution calls for more attention for some of its sections.

"The proposed new constitution has again remained silent on specifying the age of a child ...this poses controversy in promoting and protecting the right of children," she said.

Msoka, who is also nominated member of the special constituency assembly, highlights that combating GBV in the country also requires the mother law to clearly state gender equality as among other national values.

According to Msoka, the decision will cut across in all spheres protecting the rights of women and children who have turned the most victims. "It will specifically answer the question of what we as the nation want to achieve."

She says it would even worthy noting that the constitution preamble states that 'Tanzania is an independent nation made of women and men from Tanganyika and Zanzibar'.

She admits that there have been changes in the promotion of gender equality saying for example that the adoption of 50/50 strategy was a good signs. "It is high time that the amendments of legislations address legal and practical contradictions."

As echoed by Bishop Alex Malasusa of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) struggle against GBV needs combined efforts to ensure all people enjoy sameness.
"All human beings are equal under God's discipline."

Dr Asha Rose Migiro, Minister responsible for the Constitution and Legal Affairs docket clarified however that the government was on course to address gender inequalities.
She said unlike ten years ago, Tanzania has now seen women taking power in several decision making bodies.

"Despite that we have not made it to the final, but we're at good stage. President Jakaya Kikwete has made it. The ratio between women and men in public and private institutions is increasingly creating the room for equality," she said adding: "Time is still required to finalise some laws and policies that contradict to the promotion of gender equality."

At a ceremony to commemorate Human Right Day, the worldwide ceremony celebrated on every 10th of December, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said the government is working on modalities for the enactment of a law to enable poor people to access free legal services.

"The current law favours only those persons accused of criminal cases but the new law will also cover civil case to ensure that justice is done to all people. Our party manifesto has directed that the system be established to enable poor individuals to access legal aid by using paralegals in primary courts," Pinda said.

In local context therefore, rights of the child law for example reflects many of the most serious challenges facing children in Tanzania today. It addresses such issues as non-discrimination, the right to a name and nationality, the rights and duties of parents, the right to opinion and the right to protection from torture and degrading treatment.

The law lays out the system for ensuring justice for children, whether they come into contact with the legal system as offenders, witnesses or victims. And it defines processes to ensure protection for children without families, including international adoption.

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