a girl, marriage and education

By Zenorine Donath

Early marriage involving children is, for the most part, considered normal amongst people in Tanzania. Sometimes, it can be due to poverty, but others tend to assume that it is a way for parents to escape responsibility of taking care of their girls.

Ms. Dotto Abdallah, a police officer from Magomeni Police Station, when speaking of the topic of early marriage said that gender based violence is a phenomenon which nowadays seems to prevail to a large extent.

“Everyday we receive a lot of cases about early marriages, rape and torture, most of children who live with step parents,” she said.

She added that she is currently investigating a case of a form two student from Ubungo Islamic Secondary School who was forced to marry a resident of Mabibo external. The young girl was told that if she agreed to marry the older man, she would be taken to school by him because her parents could not afford to pay her school fees themselves.

The young girl accepted the offer but shortly after learned that her husband had no intention of fulfilling his obligations. She began to complain to neighbours who addressed the issue and helped her to report it at the nearby police station.

Mwananchi newspaper, on July 29th 2013, reported the case of a young girl, aged 15 years old, who was forced to marry a man of 50 years old due to dire economic circumstances.

These women are deprived of their right of expression due to factors such as poverty, ignorance, inferiority complex or lack of awareness of their basic rights. This leads to humiliation, harassment, coercion, and torture.

Although the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of 1981 prohibits discriminatory practises against women, according to the Legal and Human Rights Centre 2012 Report, men continue to dominate women and make decisions for them without their consent.

While the Marriage Act, section 13(2) allows a girl below 18 years of age to get married it disallows a boy below 18 years of age to get married. The law itself favours male over female, and therefore it must be amended so as to bring equality, justice, freedom and dignity to both men and women.

Zenorine is currently upgrading her skills in human rights reporting in Dar es Salaam. Her goal is to become an activist and reporter of marginalized people.

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One comment

  1. It’s sad to learn that Tanzanian MPs allows the existence of such discriminatory marriage Acts! Will I be unfair to our MPs if I will point finger at them for perpetuating gender discrimination in the country? Keep going my sister until we attain a dream Tanzania!

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