DAR ES SALAAM: COALITION against Gender-Based Violence (MKUKI) has called on the government to enact specific legislation that will curb all forms of violence against women and children.
Essentially, the goal is to protect victims and probable victims of GBV, punish offenders, safeguard human rights and ensure that international, continental and regional standards are met.
The call was made in Dar es Salaam yesterday by Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) Tanzania Chapter, Board Chairperson Dr Monica Mhoja during the launch of 16 days of activism against GBV campaign.
16 Days of Activism against GBV is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs until 10 December, on Human Rights Day.
“To reduce these acts, we ask the government through the Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs to enact a GBV law aligned with the SADC Model Law on GBV that Tanzania contributed to,” said Dr Mhoja.
She further said, “In addition to having a severe effect on the victim, GBV has major social and economic repercussions for society as a whole. Since it is a national issue, significant national actions must be made using the law, the most powerful instrument of government.”
Dr Mhoja stated that they also request the government to enhance mechanisms for delivering information and processing statistics on GBV so that they are interoperable across service providers.
Other proposals include hastening amendments to the Marriage Act of 1972 and implementing effective measures to safeguard women and girls from GBV and humiliation in politics during elections, allowing them to fully engage in all democratic processes, including elections.
Minister for Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups, Dr Dorothy Gwajima who was representing President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the launch, said GBV cost families, communities and the nation as a whole.
“According to UN Women statistics, violence against women costs two per cent of the global economy. It is our collective responsibility to stop violence so that our economy can grow effectively,” she said.
Change, according to Dr Gwajima, begins at home, and everyone should take action to eliminate violence. “Everyone should be a change agent, rather than waiting for others to do so.”
According to the minister, the government has taken several steps to eradicate GBV, including signing agreements at regional and national levels to end all forms of discrimination against women, as well as developing a five-year National Plan of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children (NPAVAWC 2017/18 – 2021/22).
“Another NPAVAWC plan has already been evaluated and the stakeholders have given their opinions and it has been worked on, we are in the final retreat and the women’s and gender development policy has also come out and we hope to launch it in January next year,” Dr Gwajima noted.
Dr Gwajima went on to say that NPAVAWC was a success in its implementation in 2017/18, citing statistics from the Tanzania Demographic Health Survey (TDHS) 2022 that show physical violence on women aged 15-49 years has decreased from 40 per cent in 2015 to 27 per cent in 2022, and sexual violence on women aged 15-49 years has decreased from 17 to 12 per cent in 2022.
“Even if there has been progress, there is still a problem and it might get worse, therefore we haven’t achieved our 50 per cent drop in acts of violence. The aforementioned difficulties need to be addressed before we begin the second phase,” said Dr Gwajima.
“We appreciate all traditions and customs that uphold the rights, dignity and protection of all members of society,” she continued. “However, we will continue to denounce and enact laws that will be able to restrict these areas with significant traditions to bring development and welfare. Examples of these include child marriage, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.”
Anna Kulaya, the Executive Director of WiLDAF Tanzania, on behalf of MKUKI Coalition, said the Coalition is coordinated by WiLDAF and was established in 2019 by 14 organisations with the aim of having a strong and united voice in the fight against GBV.
“Currently, this network has more than 200 organisations in the country that we collaborate in eliminating all forms of violence,” she said.
Advocate Kulaya went on to say that GBV is a national pandemic that harms people and undermines the advancement of the country as a whole.