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This is reality… :( » Women's Courage

This is reality… :(

February 23rd, 2012 by christine Leave a reply »

I read an article that stated that,

“Gender inequity is the norm in Tanzania”.

Wow! I didn’t even know where to go from there.

The MKUKUTA (Swahili acronym for National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty) Status Report 2006 indicates that 60 percent of women believe that wife beating is acceptable as compared with 42 percent of men. 60% women compared to 42% men. This was shocking to me!

This week I decided to look at the issue of domestic violence in Tanzania. Given that I am Tanzanian and I’ve looked at two other countries sides my own, I thought that was a bit odd. Based on my life experiences, which I have shared with some members of the class, I decided to see what published work says about domestic violence in Tanzania.

This same article that I read that had this very gut-wrenching sentence (to me at least), went on to explain how many women in Tanzania do not have the same opportunities as men for education and economic independence, for example, in 2004, a Demographic and Health survey carried out in Tanzania revealed that 68% of men complete primary school education in comparison to 58% women.  Participants in this survey confirmed that, especially in poor families, educating men was more valued than educating women because women were often taken out of school to assist with domestic responsibilities or the fact that they were going to be married off meant that they would benefit another family so it was seen as a loss if they were educated.

The inequities in access to education and the social norms that obligate women to care for their families instead of working outside their homes in Tanzania results in women being financially dependent on men in the nation. This financial dependence makes them vulnerable, and in the case of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), unable to leave abusive situations.

To look at specific statistics on GBV in Tanzania, a study that was carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005 of 1,820 women in Dar es Salaam and 1,450 women in Mbeya District found that “41% of ever-partnered women in Dar es Salaam and 87% in the Mbeya District had experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner at some point in their lives. In both areas, 29% of those experiencing physical intimate partner violence experienced injuries, with over a third of them having been injured in the past year [1].”

In a study conducted by USAID in Tanzania (2008) to get Tanzanian’s perspectives on issues of GBV in Tanzania, participants of focus groups conducted as part of the assessment affirmed that it was common for women to experience violence at the hands of their husbands or partners:

“There may be something the man does and hides it, for example, beating his wife. Still men today have the nature of beating their wives. It’s not something that is discussed openly.” - Adult male focus group participant

When asked why husbands beat their wives, one respondent gave the following answer:

“Men get very angry, and they will beat their wives for any reason. If she cooks or doesn’t cook, whatever, he has to beat her.” - Adult female focus group participant

Where the issue of sexual violence is concerned, the USAID assessment found that many in Tanzania view rape as acceptable behavior for men and boys under various circumstances. In the WHO, 2005 study conducted, 15% of women reported that their first sexual experience was rape. There were many reasons that were cited for rape including men not having enough money to convince women to marry or have sex with them, hormones, girl’s/women’s acceptance of gifts from men, and alcohol use (by both women and men).

One man in the focus group of the USAID (2008) assessment “justified” rape as follows:

“In our community if you approach a girl [for sex] and she refuses for more than three times,  you have to do any effort until you get her, be it by use of tricks or even raping her. You may even use another man to seduce and then do a rough game when she gets into a trap. This is known in our community as “mande,” that is, a number of men doing sex to one girl simultaneously. This is to give her a lesson.”  - Adolescent male focus group participant

YES! MY JAW DROPPED TOO! And I’m Tanzanian!

In addition, in Tanzania, forced sex within a marriage is not criminalize by the law and is not considered rape. One community leader stated that:

“It’s not rape because she went into the marriage. You see? The one who is in the marriage has already agreed. If you have a contract wither and go out of the contract, without a foundational reason, you as a man have been attacked with shame… it’s a shame.”

There is also a culture of blaming women for getting raped in Tanzania. For example, women who drink alcohol, wear revealing clothes, or accept money from men are seen as indulging in behaviors that provoke rape, and if raped are to blame for their demise.

“The girls in town wear clothes that are not worthy. They cause the men to look. So the man gets that lust, he rapes her.” – Adult female focus group participant.

For today, I end here. But this is to give a little insight on the situation of Gender-Based Violence in Tanzania. I read all this and I am so sad but this is the reality of the situation of women in my country.
:( :( :( :( :( :(

This is the reality…
:( :( :( :( :( :( :(

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3 comments

  1. tracym says:

    This is such an interesting post and thank you for researching on such a delicate topic in Tanzania. I sympathize with your pain and sadness, and these are the kind of issues that leave us wanting for better interventions and things that work. I hope that through education in schools about violence against women, the statistics may begin to decrease in Tanzania. I am in shock at was was discussed especially by the youths who believe that gang rape is teaching girls a lesson. This is indeed shocking and even more shocking given the changes that have occurred in our societies till today!

  2. tatum says:

    I was especially shocked by the statistics indicating that of sexual assault is seen as acceptable not only by men but also by women. Your post really highlighted the necessity of comprehensive programs that educate the entire population about the value of women and girls. I wonder if there have been any positive interventions addressing gender based violence in Tanzania?

  3. archana says:

    WOW! That was quite an eye opening article. Many times one hears about domestic violence and how it gets further encouraged by females or their female friends. What is interesting is the fact that men do not talk about this behavior. This means that they know that it is not something that is right, but yet they continue to engage in such a practice. I am sure that this is the case in most of the world where domestic violence is prevalent. As for the rape, I am shocked! How can people think that rape is ever justified? Is this really the norm in those communities in Tanzania or is it the warped belief of this one individual? I can’t believe that this is not something that women or other individuals in society would stand up against and say that this is wrong. I hope that such problems can be brought to light and slowly be addressed on a national and international level.

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