Call for urgent action to end the rising GBV cases in Isles

29Nov 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Call for urgent action to end the rising GBV cases in Isles

GENDER activists in Zanzibar are calling for swift measures to end gender-based violence if the country is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the next ten years.

They made the call on Tuesday when speaking at the meeting aimed at discussing and adding key inputs on the recent survey on evidence-based media advocacy and follow up on GBV issues. The survey was organised by Tanzania Media Women Association in Zanzibar (Tamwa-Zanzibar).

The study, which involved young media fellows (YMF), was conducted in Zanzibar covering two districts – North “A” District in Unguja, and Mkoani District in Pemba.

Sheikh Mwalim Mwazini Jogoo, one of religious leader in Zanzibar says: “Our laws criminalise rape and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV), but the enforcement of such laws is often weak. Many rape cases are never brought to court and victims are frequently encouraged to accept reconciliation instead of prosecution of offenders. This is a challenge that needs to be dealt with if we’re to end these barbaric behaviours.”

“I think it is high time, law enforcers should work hard to ensure all people behind GBV are taken to justice. And if possible, the law on this matter should be reviewed for better results,” he says.

Jogoo is of the view that GBV perpetuators need to be beaten with not less than 100 sticks before the public as one way offending the vice in Zanzibar.

National coordinator of One Stop Center in Zanzibar’s Ministry of Health Farshuu Khalfan Hafidhi suggests the needs for more education on how people should report GBV cases to the responsible authorities such as police gender desks.

“It is true that many people are aware of GBV, but most of them are unaware on how to report such cases to the responsible authorities. So, this is the area we need to work on.”

Ali Sultan, a Zanzibar-based senior journalist and researcher says: “As per the latest survey GBV cases are going high despite a number of interventions, which are in place including good laws and policies that criminalise gender-based violence.”

He says the report shows, there are heaps of GBV cases in police stations, most are said to be under investigations. “I think it is high time for the government to provide a time frame for GBV cases to be taken to court after being reported,” he suggests

Shifaa Said Hassan, Tamwa-Zanzibar board member calls for collective efforts to end GBV.

“We must continue to invest in the fight against GBV but also work in collaborations with all players such as governments, traditional and religious leaders, and communities to ensure our collective efforts have maximum impact,” she suggests.

Asha Abdi, acting director of Tamwa-Zanzibar cites bureaucracy at police gender desk as a challenge thwarting the battle against GBV as it is a very long process for a victim to get her/his justice.

In turn, she says: “This demoralizes people to go on with their cases, hence fail to get justice.”

“Most cases are said to be under police investigation and this is caused by lack of commitments by police officers, and the culture of secrecy—which is so serious here, which is a factor that fuel GBV,” she says.

Abdi also says poor customer-care in police stations is another challenge that hampers the anti-GBV fight as victims are rudely treated when reporting their cases.

“To me, I see this as a challenge in the GBV fight.”

Presenting the findings of the survey, Ali Haji Mwadini, said that GBV is perhaps the most widespread in both two districts—North “A” and Mkaoni, despite the valuable efforts taken by governmental and non-governmental institutions.

“Any type of violence is traumatic for men or women, but gender-based violence is preponderantly inflicted by men on women and girls. The cost to the survivor, her family, society and the country as a whole is vast,” says Mwadini, who is also a consultant of the study.

According to him, statistics indicate that one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.

“One in three will have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused, usually by a family member or an acquaintance.”

Due to ineffective implementation of Criminal Procedure Act No 7 of 2018 and Evidence Act No 9 of 2017 GBV incidences as victims normally neglect provision of evidence before the court without being convicted in accordance to the law, he says.

“Based on the findings of this follow-up survey, it is clearly observed that GBV cases are fueled by some negative culture practices inherited from one generation to another and religious believes which portrays men as superior and powerful within a family. The trends show that GBV is a public cry as incidences are being reported every day, yet measures taken are not enough in winning this fight.

“The study further reveals that women, youth and children, as well as the people with disabilities particularly those with developmental disability become susceptible to abuse routinely as the rights of GBV survivors being compromised by case delays, cumbersome procedures, administrative bottlenecks, corruption and ignorance of laws

“There is a poor coverage of GBV in the media on the programmes and newspaper articles produced and published by young media fellows. Also, the choice on media was not strategically fit for advocacy especially in newspaper.    The study further shows that the prevalence and magnitude of GBV incidences at targeted areas are alarming as cases being reported are prevalently higher,” Mwadini says.

The findings call upon revised agenda on strategic advocacy and other interventions on the issues of GBV as the status of previous reported cases in term of fighting against GBV is not promising at all.