Tanzania: Gender Violence Must Be Eliminated

A RECENT state report says that more than 3,000 poor children have been saved from the worst forms of labour and offered alternative means of earning a living.

Some have been enrolled in vocational training institutions where they may acquire useful skills. This is delightful news but the story does not end here.

Tanzania has a growing number of street children who are often harassed, exploited and even sexually assaulted by criminals in the underworld or incredibly, by security agents including members of the Police Force.

Most street children hail from poor rural families some of which are deficient on money and food. Some of such families are led by outlaws and have no role models. Naturally, in such a situation it is the children who suffer most.

The pangs of hunger eventually prompt some children to migrate to towns and cities in search of better livelihoods. Some children opt for street life after failing to put up with the violence in their families.

It is unfortunate that some children are born into violent families where parents are enemies, to say the least. It is this scenario that often leads to abject poverty and hunger in some families. A recent survey has shown that gender based violence is escalating with pronounced cases occurring in Kagera, Mara, Mwanza and Kigoma.

In most cases it is the wives who fall victim to the rage of their husbands, especially when the men fail to control their emotions. But it is imperative to mention here that it is also on record that a rather insignificant number of wives batter their husbands in anger.

Children often flee the acrimonious situation in their nuclear families. Some prefer to scavenge in the streets. Wives complain, nearly in each region, that their husbands subject them to untold suffering. Not many husbands, especially in rural Tanzania, know that wife battering is a criminal offence.

Over and above this social misdemeanor, it is these same ‘battered’ women who slog it out in family farms to make ends meet while their men laze around.

In fact, any act of gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty should be rated as a punishable, criminal offence. We condemn domestic violence in strongest terms and call for concerted measures to eliminate the vice.

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