Zanzibar grapples with abandonment, a new form of GBV

13Aug 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Zanzibar grapples with abandonment, a new form of GBV

AUTHORITIES in Zanzibar islands are grappling with abandonment, which is a serious problem in Isles leading to gender-based violence (GBV) especially children under 18 years as their upbringing fall under single-parenting.

Haroub Suleman Hemed, Community Development Officer in Wete District, Pemba Island revealed this recently when speaking to journalists from Tanzania Media Women Association in Zanzibar (TAMWA-Zanzibar).

“This is a very common problem here. Most of our GBV cases are those related to abandonment and family breakups,” said Hemed, who has been working in the office for more than 20 years.

He said: “Other forms of GBV are going down due to a number of interventions, which are in place, but abandonment of children and families still persists and this has been contributed by a number of factors, including early marriages, culture and polygamy.”

The sociologist also cited poverty as one of the driving factors for men to abandon their families, as some people run away to look for job and business opportunities outside Pemba—the island which is famous for its rich fishing grounds.

But, there are those who are reluctant to take care of their families,” he said, adding: “As government, we’re struggling to address this challenge through regular meetings and seminars with local leaders on the negative impact of abandonment.”

Fathiya Mussa Said, coordinator of Tamwa-Zanzibar in Pemba also described abandonment as one of the leading cause of GBV in the Island, revealing that there are several cases of families and women who have been abandoned by their spouses, the situation which end up fueling GBV.

Citing examples, Fathiya said in Ole Mjini area, few kilometers from Chakechake—the headquarters of South Pemba region, a man abandoned his wife and two children for good.

Apart from reporting the case, and Kadhi Court ruled in favor of the family, but enforcing the ruling becomes impossible, she said, adding:

“The situation is bad the woman and children continue to languish in poverty, as the bread winner ditched the family for more than two years.”

Fathiya also revealed that in Selem area of Wete District, parents (father and mother) deserted the family of five children.

“The father married another woman and the mother is married to another man, leaving the five children in agony,” she said, noting that the children are at risk of being abused as they have nowhere to get basic needs.

“Our role is to ensure that a voice of the voiceless is heard and at some points, victims are supported by well-wishers. For instance after reporting the case of those five children who have been abandoned some well-wishers helped them to refurbish the house they are living in,” she said.

Asha Mussa Omar, programme officer, Tamwa-Pemba also said despite enough media reporting on the matter, abandonment remained a thorny to the anti-GBV fight in Pemba.

A survey carried out by Tamwa-Zanzibar titled: “Report on engagement of young media fellows (YMF), cited abandonment of children or family as a chronic problem in Zanzibar leading to GBV especially children under 18 years as their upbringing fall under single-parenting or transferred to closely related family members which in most cases leading to child negligence.

The survey was meant to asses GBV situation in Zanzibar covering two districts – North A District of Unguja, and Mkoani District in Pemba.

The survey was conducted  in order to instigate the media to demonstrate  their significant role to end GBV  via strategic advocacy and intervention by improving contents and focus on thematic issues encompassing GBV as well as sensitising other actors both governmental and private institutions to be actively engaged in the fight against GBV through media.

The survey was in line with the Zanzibar’s National Plan of Action to end Violence against Women and Children (NPA-VAWC), 2017-2022, signifies a commitment to end all forms of violence against women and children.