Arusha — VICE-PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has directed the country's judiciary to find ways of handling criminal cases facing women and children with special consideration because there are some invisible catalysts that prompt the vulnerable groups into acts which put them in trouble.
"Women and children are more susceptible to social injustice, poverty and stigma... therefore when they appear in courts of law, judges, lawyers and magistrates need to look beyond the initial presentation and go deeper to discern the core cause of the matter," she said.
Mama Samia was speaking here shortly after opening a joint conference on 'Gender and the Judiciary in Africa,' organised by the Tanzania's Judiciary and the World Bank, a three-day gathering taking place at the Simba Plenary Hall of the Arusha International Conference Center (AICC).
She said gender-related issues such as gender-based violence were a long-term problem in the contemporary world which needs immediate national, regional and international interventions.
On her part, the World Bank's country director, Ms Bella Bird said that in dealing with many of the legal issues, gender equality and an effective judiciary were both essential to achievingeconomic development and building strong societies.
"The World Bank runs development projects valued at $4.5bn across Tanzania ... so proper dispensing of justice is vital for the realisation of the country's Development Vision 2015," said Ms Bird.
The Senior Vice-President of the World Bank group, Ms Sandie Okoro said there were limitations facing married women's legal capacity in Africa, arguing wedlock often stifle their freedom and decision-making, while also serving as platforms for domestic violence.
"One-third of all women in Africa are subjected to physical, sexual and intimate forms of violence, with majority of them compelled to suffer in silence as local laws with strong traditional and cultural roots draw curtains to their predicaments," she said.
Running under the theme; 'Building an effective, Accountable and Inclusive Judiciary,' the meeting has brought together chief justices, judges, magistrates and other stakeholders to discuss ways in which the judiciary could not just guarantee the fundamental right of every woman to live free of discrimination and violence, but also promote women's vital role in social and economic development.
Participants are addressing topics related to the role of the courts in Africa especially in addressing gender within the judiciary; women's access to justice and Gender-based violence and issues of social and economic development.
The conference aims at sharing understanding of challenges, international good practices as well as innovative approaches and gender-specific strategies to advance judicial sector development, traversing topics on human rights, social and economic development, and fostering dialogue within the global community.