9 August 2008

Tanzania: MPs Push for Amendment of Marriage Act

Arusha — Marrying off young Maasai girls is likely to come to an end only if some legislations especially with regard to marriage are amended. It is common to see school-age Maasai girls being forced to marry old men the age of their fathers and Arusha region is notorious for that.

Several legislators last week pushed for an urgent review of laws that undermine the welfare of women.

Citing the Law of Marriage Act of 1971, as an example of bad statutes, pointing out provisions that allow girls as young as 15 to get married.

Dr Gertrude Rwakatare (Special Seats - CCM) said during the Bunge session in Dodoma that the laws should promote and safeguard interests of girls and women of the 21st century.

The MP who was making her maiden speech in the House since joining the Parliament, also criticized harmful customs and traditions that lower the dignity of women.

Dr Rwakatare urged proper care of orphans and called upon parents, particularly men, to support children born out of wedlock.

"Please take care of all your children even those born out of the wedlock," the MP who is a cleric told the National Assembly.

She condemned beliefs in witchcraft, particularly killings of elderly women and albinos, saying such acts were totally unacceptable.

Dr Rwakatare urged involvement of all religious denominations in the campaign against killings of innocent people. Ms Jenista Mhagama (Peramiho - CCM), also condemned killings of the elderly and albinos, saying such acts were shameful to the nation.

"Killings of albinos in Tanzania have been extensively publicized in the world. It is too bad for our country. Shame on us!" she was quoted by the Daily News.

Her views were supported by several other MPs.

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