18 March 2019

Tanzania: Yes, Children, Women's Rights Must Be Protected

ON paper, plans, pronouncements, declarations, laws and regulations seem and sound fantastic, as they are anchored on protecting and enhancing human rights and happiness.

The problem is that, in some cases, there is a mismatch between the set goals and what actually happens on the ground.

Women and children constitute a segment of Tanzanian society that has for a considerable period been subjected to various degrees of unfair play on social and economic fronts.

This has for most part been rooted in some aspects of the cultures and traditions of tribes or ethnic groups numbering over 100.

Some of these may have initially been tolerable and relevant within specific settings, but, over time, as tribes became part of a broader community, and the concept of a global village is now holding sway, clinging to cultures and traditions that are evidently inimical to human rights is unacceptable and even damnable.

This has to be set in proper perspective, though; positive cultural trends are acceptable and even celebrated. Hence, ' culture is the soul of the nation' message. As for negative trends, these should be rejected.

Hence, the emergence of initiatives at national, regional and even international levels, to campaign against cultures and traditions that trample upon the rights of segments of the community.

That's the backdrop against which the forthcoming national workshop on curbing cruelty against women and children in Dar es Salaam (March 22-23, 2019) should be viewed.

The Managing Director of the Children's Dignity Forum, Ms Koshuma Mtengeti, stresses that, the issue has to be tackled earnestly, as beatings of women, teenage marriages, female genital mutilation and sexual harassment are still commonplace, in spite of Tanzania being a signatory to regional and international agreements against the vices.

We share Ms Mtengeti's concerns, for it is apparent that there's a mismatch between the would-be delightful ideals and the nasty realities.

It is apparent that, one of the major problems is the reluctance by some community members to drop what are obviously negative practices, such as parents deliberately sabotaging the academic dreams of their daughters in order to marry them off in exchange for dowry.

We are banking on the forthcoming workshop to produce tangible results. The bottom line should be: YES to positive cultural practices; NO to negative ones!

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