Speaking at a media briefing in the city, Theodosia Nshala, the director of the Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC) urged the government to enact a women rights law providing procedural and substantive rights of women in the country “and subsequently amend all hideous laws.”
“The rising cases of gender based violence (GBV) amid efforts by actors to address it are disturbing,” she said. “The National Action Plan should be revisited in order to include a comprehensive strategy to address child marriage.”
The heavily criticized laws include the Marriage Act no 29 RE 2002 section 13 that allow a girl child to be married at the age of 14 only with court approval and at the age of 15 if parents assent.
“While the Penal Code Cap 16 RE 2002 criminalizes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) there is a gap in the law. A person below the age of 18 is covered while in practice a female-child and a woman above 18 undergo FGM,” Nshala said.
The report compiled by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), the Tanzania Women’s Lawyers Association (TAWLA), Women in Law and Development Africa (WiLDAF), the Tanzania Women and Children Welfare Centre (TWCWC), the Centre for Widows and Children Assistance (CWCA) and the Legal and Human Right Centre (LHRC) also noted that the Customary Law (Declaration) Order, No 4 of 1963 was discriminatory.
The study shows that another prevalent problem is property grabbing upon the death of a husband. In specific terms, while property grabbing is not the custom of any ethnic group in the country, it remains a systematic aspect the ‘corruption of customs’ especially in the coastal and Lake Victoria zones.
Edda Sanga, Executive Director for Tamwa, said there is a widespread practice of discrimination and social exclusion of women, underlining that evidence shows the gravity of the problem.
The government needs to take preventive measures to reduce the frequency of child marriage as this is turning to be an even greater social problem, the veteran activist appealed.