16 January 2013

Tanzania: Activists Call for Change in Oppressive Systems

Zanzibar — ACTIVISTS in Zanzibar have said that society and institutional oppressive systems are to blame for increased Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the Isles.

"We ask respective authorities to consider reforms on existing systems to make sure that there is no room for GBV at all levels including in institutions and communities," said the activists in a joint statement.

The Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) and Zanzibar Female Women Lawyers Association (ZAFELA), have said that several complaints of GBV recorded in 2012 were a result of the oppressive system in communities.

Social oppression refers to the systematic, socially supported mistreatment and exploitation of a group, category or team of people by anyone, while institutionalized oppression occurs when established laws, customs and practices systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one's membership in targeted social identity groups.

If oppressive consequences accrue to institutional laws, customs or practices, the institution is oppressive whether or not the individuals maintaining those practices have oppressive intentions.

"The government has to take action against the existing oppressive systems against women at the institutional and community level in order to reduce GBV incidents in Zanzibar," reads part of the statement.

According to the activist groups in Zanzibar, GBV incidents recorded last year were torching of women's houses, taking and displaying of women pornographic pictures on the internet, rape, forced marriages and divorce and dispossession.

TAMWA and ZAFELA said in the statement that the problems were compounded by the fact that the courts and police force have failed to prosecute their cases in a timely manner and absence of a DNA testing machine.

ZAFELA Secretary, Ms Hamisa Mmanga proposed on the need for a fast track prosecution system, citing a case of a 14-year old female student in Gando,

Pemba north who was forced into marriage by her father but the case is yet to be sent to court.

"This trend of case delays and denials are the main contributing factors to the increase of GBV incidents as there are no lessons learnt on the part of the perpetrators," she said as the girl's mother lamented to TAMWA of being frustrated to see her daughter, who was in standard seven, getting married and yet her father has not been sent to court.

"I asked for help before and after the marriage which happened in December, last year in order to prevent the marriage but no strong measures have been taken since then," she added.

TAMWA Advocacy Officer in Zanzibar, Ms Asha Makame mentioned another GBV incident which needed to be fast tracked as that of a 16 year old girl whose nude pictures were distributed by a man on the internet.

A survey conducted by TAMWA in 2012 in 10 districts of Unguja and Pemba recorded 900 GBV complaints including 400 of rape. Unfortunately, less than 30 per cent of the rape cases had reached the courts.

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