According to the Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre report of 2012, violence against women continues to be a prominent part of Tanzanian society.
The report found that the Mara region of Tanzania is one of the leading regions in the country where incidents of gender based violence is reported. The report details the story of a victim in Mara who was admitted to Musoma regional hospital after she was brutally tortured and had her hair pulled out in order to make her unattractive to other men. The report also noted a case of an 18 year old girl who had been forced into an early marriage and was brutally tortured and physically abused by her husband.
Speaking with a Tanzanian woman named Redemta who has suffered harsh treatment at the hands of her husband, she said that the situation of violence against women is bad because it hinders women from realizing their human rights. She said that she has lived with her husband since 1998, and that in the beginning they loved each other although their economic status was not very good. In operating a small business they managed to build their house as well as develop their business on a larger scale. This involved them selling drinks in their home.
She became pregnant and gave birth to their first born. It became difficult for her to manage the business and her newborn at the same time so she hired someone to help her care for the baby.
“I was very happy when I got the girl because I knew that it would be easier for me to do my business with my husband, which helped us to get something to eat,” said Redemta.
After the arrival of the girl (Anna), Redemta’s husband decided that she would become involved in controlling the business. Redemta trusted them to control everything.
“As the days go on, my husband started to change by acting negatively to me as well as our new born. Sometimes, he would not even give us money for food,” she said. “I sometimes wondered why my husband changed so much, but I failed to get an answer from him. It was very difficult for me to accept these sudden changes to my husband, and I decided to search out the reason. Sadly enough, I discovered that my husband was in love with the house girl, Anna,” said Redemta.
Redemta said that it pained her a lot to know the true source of her sadness. “I had nothing more to do than talk to his family so that they could talk to their son. I did this after trying to speak with him unsuccessfully. His family talked to him but they failed to change his mind,” she said. Redemta proceeded to force Anna to leave the house, but when she did her husband left with her.
In 2001, Redemta managed to give birth to another baby, and during this time her husband increased his brutal treatment of her as well as to their children. Redemta reported the issue to the board of marriage resolution. “I was asking for a divorce as well as for my babies, but the board failed to help me as my husband came forward and said I had no way to earn money therefore I will not be able to care for the two babies,” she said.
The board successfully granted Redemta a divorce, but her two children remain with her husband who is now living with Anna, who is now his wife.
“It was very sad to leave my children to him, but there was no other way out. The brutal treatments were now over,” recounted Redemta.
The United Republic of Tanzania must commit itself to improving women’s legal capacity through legal literacy schemes and campaigns designed to educate both women and men on women’s rights in society. The status of women must be enhanced, and the only way to do this is to increase knowledge and awareness of their legal and human rights.
Scolastica is a student at St. Augustine University of Tanzania, studying a degree in Mass Communication. Scolastica aspires to be an internationally recognized journalist of human rights. She hopes to become the voice of the voiceless.