Gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. This issue is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families, but also entails significant social and economic costs.
In some countries, Tanzania included, violence against women is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7 per cent of their GDP - more than double what most governments spend on education. Failure to address this issue also entails a significant cost for the future.
Numerous studies have shown that children growing up with violence are more likely to become survivors themselves or perpetrators of violence in the future. One characteristic of gender-based violence is that it knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socioeconomic backgrounds: this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries.
It is on this backdrop that the government established an Integrated Management System for women who have been subjected to gender based violence, as part of initiative to holistically respond to case of the nature. Besides women, the system is also expected to respond to cases of violence against children. During a two day multi sector dialogue on ending GBV at work places organised by the Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), a Senior Official from the Department of Social Welfare at the Mininstry of Health, Community Development, Gender and elderly, Mr Darius Damas disclosed several factors which fuel gender based violence.
He was speaking on behalf of the Commissioner of the Social Welfare Department, noting that the government is committed to ensure GBV survivors/victims are provided with basic services for their wellbeing and dignity. Mr Damas observed that the country lacked such a crucial system in a long time but now it exists and working.
"The achievements have been driven due to collaborative efforts with other government ministries and organs," said Mr Damas, adding that besides this, the ministry has developed a guideline for establishment and management of safe homes for victims and survivors of human trafficking and other forms of GBV.
He pointed out that the move will support the establishment of shelters and safe homes, particularly for elders. He said among the achievements recorded by the government towards ending GBV is through the 420 gender and children desks in 26 regions in the country.
Likewise, the Prison department has joined forces by starting up 161 gender desks at the prisons. He added that GBV survivors in health facilities setting and one stop centres have been established for the provision of specialised services to help victims.
So far, 14 centres have been started, but the goal is to spread similar services at all regional and district hospitals countrywide. He, however, noted that major achievements have been recorded in the area of juvenile cases which are being dealt with in line to the law of the child and juvenile court rules in ensuring the rights and well-being of children are protected.
The Official added that the move is also meant to ensure children who are diverted from the full justice system are treated in communities and rehabilitation centres. "We have developed divergent skills, whereby children who are in conflict with the law are taken to rehabilitation centres," he said.
Other aspects include looking for fit homes, foster families and adopting families so as to enjoy the care and support regardless of other challenges.