THE Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, has directed each regional and district hospital to allocate a special unit in the facilities for ensuring that victims of gender and children related violence are addressed promptly.
The minister banned all forms of charges imposed on victims of such abuse in exchange of medical services.
She gave the directives in Dar es Salaam, yesterday at the National Dialogue on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage and teenage pregnancy organised by the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Ministry, the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA), among other partners.
"In some of the hospitals, attendants demand money for a raped child to be examined by a doctor...it is strictly prohibited for anyone to seek payment from the victims of gender and children related violence," she said.
Ms Mwalimu also disclosed plans to dialogue with the Chief Justice on the possibility of conducting special sessions related to gender and children related violence for earlier dispensation of cases.
The minister further stressed on the need for head teachers in public and private primary and secondary schools countrywide to submit quarterly reports on female pupils and students who drop out due to child pregnancy and early marriages.
According to her, the government is committed to ensure that all harmful practices against women and girls are eliminated. To that end, she added, the government had embarked on several initiatives, including the ratification and adoption of several protocols.
These include enacting legislations, such as the one related to the child of 2009, amendment of the Education Act which imposes a 30-year sentence for those who impregnate and marry schoolgirls.
Ms Mwalimu cited other initiatives as the free education policy which has advocated for equal opportunities for boys and girls, as opposed to the long past when one group had more privileges than others.
"The five-year National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children is also another initiative that has been in place, in respect of which stakeholders should support the government in its implementation, rather than focusing on the broader picture.
We should focus on measurable and specific targets," she observed.
She called upon the Head of the Gender Desk, CP Mary Nzuki, to establish more gender desks beyond the current 420 in districts and regions, the focus being directed to at least half of the 3000 stations at ward level.
The UNFPA Country Director, Ms Jackline Mahon, said Goal Five of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims to eliminate all forms of violence and harmful practices against women and children; therefore was vital that concerted efforts were being put in place to curb the vices.
"Together, we must strive to ensure that young girls are able to make peaceful transitions throughout their lifetime," she said. The Shinyanga Regional Commissioner, Ms Zainab Tellack, revealed that the region had the highest prevalence rate in child marriage by 59 percent among other forms of GBV.
The focus, she explained, was on education and awareness creation at all levels. "Education is our key priority by ensuring that school attendance is on the maximum and educating parents that enrolling their children in school was a lifetime asset rather than the cows which they received as dowry to marry them off and later perish during drought seasons," said Ms Tellack.
She revealed that the initiative had helped the region to reduce the school pregnancies from 259 cases last year to 90 cases this year.