My Perspectives

The World is a funny, complex, progressive and regressive place in many ways. My Perspectives is a space where I will be sharing my perspectives of the world. My focus will be on sociopolitical, environmental politics and socio-justice matters. Come, join the discussion!

Gender Based Violence and the Law

Signs of high rates of violence against women. PHOTO/ER

Many of us ask the following questions; what is Gender Based Violence? What is the right of a woman? Is it different from the rights of a man? Let’s explore together with JOVITHA MLAY who is an expert on Gender issues…

Gender Based Violence (GBV) includes a wide range of violation of women’s rights and basic human rights. Action which is labelled as violence here includes rape, wife abuse, and sexual abuse of children, forced marriages, harmful cultural practices and traditions that irreparably damage girls and women reproductive and sexual health.

Although reliable data on the incidences of GBV are scarce, there is an increasing body of knowledge indicating that it is widespread and common in Tanzania.

In our local settings, it occurs in a broad context of gender based discrimination with regards to access to education resources and decision making power in private and public life. Such violence is inflicted on girls and women by husbands, fathers or other male relatives.

GBV in Tanzania is often directly or indirectly related to outdated customs and traditional practices. For example, In Shinyanga region and Magu District there has been reports of witchcraft killings, early and forced marriages, bride price and women discrimination in education.

All these are associated with the outdated custom were Sukuma men values his cattle higher than he values his daughter.

I remember in one of the trainings I was conducting together with one of YWCA Tanzania’s programmes called TAMAR Campaign; one church leader said, “A father is expecting cows as bride price for his beautiful daughter. How can he sell the same cow for paying school fees for another girl in the family? Girls here are born to bring wealth and prestige in the family and not otherwise”.

This is quite an outdated and inhuman practice that should not be tolerated in this time and era.

There has been much effort to combat GBV. Government and Non Government Organization (NGOs) are investing a lot of resources to stop such practices, but the question here is what impact have all these achieved?

Over the past few years the Church and other Religious Institutions have begun to support the egalitarian movement. Previously this was seen by many Religious Institutions to go against the Canonical writings. It was also seen as insubordination in a society where male supremacy has been dominant for ages.

In a recent study on Women’s health and domestic violence it was revealed that approximately 48% of Tanzanian women report that they have experienced violence in their lifetime, while 56% interviewed for this study consider violence to be a normal part of their life.

Women in Tanzania currently take very few actions to address the domestic violence they face. About 1/3 of the women who have experienced domestic violence have told anyone about their experience and 60% of all women have NEVER sought help from any formal services or authority.


This entry was posted on Mar 23, 2011 by in Rights.

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