Dar es Salaam. A new human rights report by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) states that gender-based violence threatens women’s rights in Tanzania, calling on the government to enact a special anti-GBV law to show commitment to ending the harmful practice.
In its Tanzania Human Rights Report 2022, launched on Wednesday, LHRC records violence reported across Tanzania Mainland, including physical, psychological, sexual, and economic violence.
It cites recent government figures on GBV, which show that reported incidents decreased from 42,414 in 2020 to 29,373 in 2021, equivalent to a decrease of 30.8 per cent.
However, in 2022, police in various parts of the country reported that GBV incidents were rising, LHRC observes.
For example, LHRC cites a statement by Katavi regional police commander Ali Makame who in October 2022 revealed that GBV incidents reported between January and September already surpassed those reported for the same period in 2021 by 30 incidents, increasing from 240 to 270.
Through its media survey and human rights monitoring, LHRC also documented at least 108 incidents of violence against women reported in Pwani, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Mara, Mtwara, Rukwa, Songwe, Geita, Dodoma, and Kigoma.
“Fifty-six per cent of these incidents were acts of physical and emotional violence, followed by sexual violence (28 per cent) and economic violence (16 per cent),” LHRC says in its report.
LHRC also recorded 1,391 incidents of GBV in regions it surveyed, of which 46 per cent were of physical and psychological violence, and 29 per cent were of sexual violence, which included rape and sextortion. The remaining 25 per cent were of economic violence.
“Majority of the interviewed respondents in the regions – which included [social welfare officers] SWOs, paralegals, and human rights monitors – acknowledged that physical violence is the most common form of [violence against women] VAW, followed by economic violence,” LHRC observes.
A serious problem
Nearly half (44 per cent) of the community members who participated in the human rights survey perceived violence against women to be “a serious problem” in their community, followed by just over a quarter (29 per cent) who said it is “a problem.” A quarter said it is “a moderate problem.”
In terms of regions, the percentage of respondents who said violence against women is “a very serious problem” or “a serious problem” was highest in Dodoma (84 per cent) and lowest in Katavi (58 per cent), LHRC found.
In terms of zones, the Northern Zone – Tanga, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha – scored the highest average percentage (82 per cent), followed by Central Zone – Morogoro, Dodoma, Tabora, and Singida – at 76 per cent, and Eastern – Dar es Salaam, Pwani, and Mtwara – and Western – Rukwa, Kigoma, and Katavi – Zones, both at 70 per cent.
“It is high time for Tanzania to enact anti-GBV law,” as part of the national efforts to end GBV in the country, LHRC recommended in its report.
LHRC says several countries already have such laws, giving examples of Bulgaria, South Africa, Malaysia, India, Sierra Leone, and Namibia.
LHRC is not Tanzania’s only human rights organisation calling for enacting the anti-GVB law.
Last year, the Tanzania Network of Legal Aid Providers (TANLAP) called for the law to be enacted, saying it would offer more protection for victims and survivors.
The network’s Executive Director, Christina Kamili, was quoted as saying that the existing legal framework in the country has failed to resolve the “crisis” of GBV, calling for a new intervention.
In Zanzibar, authorities are considering developing anti-GBV legislation to improve the state’s ability to end the vice.
The secretary of Zanzibar’s Law Review Commission, Mussa Kombo, said on November 29, 2022, that the commission was preparing new legislation against domestic or gender-based violence in the semi-autonomous archipelago.