Gender based violence, the need for strategic priority

By Jonia Lugenge

The Constitution of Tanzania prohibits gender based discrimination but the country’s legislation has yet to be adjusted to support this principle. Tanzania ratified the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in 1985.

“Violence against women violates the enjoyment of women of their rights and fundamental freedoms, also to a great extent women and girls are subjected to physical sexual and psychological abuse that push back society’s development,” Annamaria Mukamwa, a member of the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA).

Dorcas Emmanuel (42), a woman who has faced domestic violence, said “my marriage turned sour and currently I am divorced. My husband used to beat me everyday with no reason, I am now living separately from him as he divorced me under the rules of Tanzania customary marriage laws.”

Josephine Christian (39) a member of Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), says that the government has the obligation to protect its nation against domestic violence and yet fighting gender based violence is still not a strategic priority in many government programmes. Therefore, making it difficult to fight the attitude that sustains such a problem. TAMWA is currently collaborating with other partners in forming regional committees to identify, reveal and combat different forms of gender based violence in the country.

Recent reports show that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to gender based violence, as husbands sometimes become more violent during the wife’s pregnancy, even by kicking and hitting their wife’s belly. The women run twice the risk of miscarriage and sometimes the risk of having a low birth weight.

Margret Francis, a member of a women’s organization that fights violence, said that some women are not even aware of these violations and this happens because of the way men view themselves as men, and the way they view women. This determines whether they use violence against them.

Tanzania’s Legal and Human Rights Centre 2012 Report indicates that domestic violence against women remains widespread as current laws do not specifically prohibit spousal battery. Additionally, action is rarely taken against perpetrators of physical abuse against women.

After completing her studies in Journalism and Mass Communications, Jonia hopes to become a competitive writer and reporter of different issues, both domestic and international. Jonia plans to focus on the violation of human rights in her pursuits.

 

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