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Committee, MPs Wants Election Laws to Have Provisions for Combating Gender-Based Violence

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Using their own experiences, members of parliament are calling for gender-based violence to be recognized as an election offense.

Anne Kilango Malecela, a seasonal member of parliament who has been serving since 2005 shared how her campaign was almost impeded by violence from her ex-husband.

“I am a victim of gender-based violence and I have been competing in elections since 2005. While I understand there are laws for curbing gender-based violence, there needs to be a provision in election laws,” said Malecela, a CCM member of parliament now serving Same Mashariki.

Malecela went on to share her own experience in a speech, which she concluded by urging the government to ensure there is a provision.

“In 2005, just two weeks into the campaign, my competitor humiliated me by intentionally using matters in my marriage. I was shocked to find every woman in my campaign team had left,” recounted Malecela.

“When I asked around, they told me that the men were not happy as they had been informed, I had taken my husband to the Police. But the issue was; amid separation with my husband, he had burned me with a hot iron so, I had to run to the Police,” continued Malecela.

To salvage the situation Malecela asked her campaign team to organize a rally in the same place where her competitor spoke.

“I had to take off my clothes and show everyone my damaged back, men and women saw that mark. I have kids and grandkids but I had to say this because it’s a serious issue”, concluded Malecela.

Another member of parliament who shared her experience is Jesca Jonathani Msambatavangu a CCM member serving Iringa Mjini, “In Iringa, there was a guy who used to argue that they should not elect me as I do not have a husband, I told him to send his marriage proposal to CCM if he intend to marry me,” said Msambatavangu.

Another member of parliament Khadija Shaaban Taya (CCM Special Seat), argued that there are instances of abuse even in the process of finding special seats for members of parliament inside the parties. Taya emphasized that having a provision is an urgent matter to ensure elections are civil.

“If we have a provision for punishing corruption during the election, why don’t we have one for gender-based violence? Without a specific law, we will not be able to help our community or the next generation,” argued Taya.

Experience similar to what was shared by Msambatavangu and Malecela has been well documented, for example in 2020 while there was a surge of women candidates vying for constituency seats, there were many incidents of gender-based violence, some perpetrated by government authorities.

For example, Esther Matiko recorded an incident of sexual abuse by the Police, and  Catherine Ruge was bedridden due to Police abuse. Most female candidates will be labeled with a ‘Malaya’ title, a Swahili word for prostitute.

Reading their proposals on the Presidential, Parliamentarians, and Councilors Election Bill,  the Chairperson of the Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee proposed that it was important to set a provision against abuse and gender-based violence during the election. The committee has also proposed for the law to set a specific procedure on how political parties can get special seat candidates.

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