Gender desks in police stations tackle gender based violence in Tanzania

Gender Based Violence (GBV) includes physical assault, sexual harassment like rape, psychological torture, economic violence and extramarital affairs, which President Kikwete considers as a poverty indicator and stated in public that it should be included in the Millennium Development Goals so as to overcome it.

Inspector General of Police, Said Mwema, created the Tanzania Police Female Network (TPFNet) in 2007, which led to the creation of Gender Desks in police stations in the country which respond to cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV).

The GBV Prevention Network findings of 2008 indicate many forms of GBV which include intimate partner violence and rape seen as normal, with the number and quality of services and resources available to survivors of GBV minimal despite policy level support and promised intervention being implemented by NGO’s.

Women and girls are blamed for provoking GBV and in turn are ashamed and fear of reporting incidents concerning GBV. They are also unaware of the rights which protect them when they are faced with such circumstances.

A representative of the Gender Desk in Tabata Police Station, Sergeant Monica, said that they have recently received several cases of GBV which include 2 cases of rape, 1 case of wife beating, and several economic violence cases. However, most cases do not reach court due to the disappearance of victims after they file their complaints. Whenever they try to follow up with victims, they claim to be okay and reject further police involvement.

“Girls have twice the profit when they receive education. Society should prioritize girls education, especially in rural areas, which could help them to solve different challenges like GBV and others which mostly affect women and children”, she added.

The government should establish a law against perpetrators of GBV in the new constitution and a provision of education in society by NGO’s and government initiatives which concern GBV, which will help citizens to report to gender desks without fear, said Omary Athuman, a resident of Mbezi.

There is no specific law against domestic violence in the current Tanzanian Constitution; rather it is minimally addressed in the law of Marriage Act & Sexual Offence Special Provisions Act of 1998 which poses harsh penalties for perpetrators of sexual violence.

The first international instrument to recognize women rights as human rights is The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 and in Tanzania there is a Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Development that deals with GBV issues as well. The Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) also established Anti Gender Based Violence which will report, educate and give legal assistance on GBV and several NGO’s which are found in the country.

Loveness is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Journalism at St. Augustine University of Tanzania. She is interested in both broadcast and print media. In her leisure time, she loves to watch Korean dramas and listen to slow music.

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