Violence Against Minors Still Worries Gender Stakeholders

By Suleiman Shagata

THE community has to use official forums to bring changes on cases of violence against minors.

According to a survey which was made by this newspaper in different areas of Ilemela district, Mwanza region recently, it was revealed that there are still many cases of violence reported at various centres.

Gender desks and one-stop centres are selected places where Sexual Violence Against Children (SVAC) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) should be reported for the right solution.

These desks are centres found in police stations and in hospitals, where they provide assistance in handling cases of violence which face vulnerable groups in the society. Mwanza Police Gender Desk and Children Deputy Regional Officer,

Ms Rebecca Kasongo said that from January to March this year, 432 cases of gender violence were reported at the desks, which involve rape, dumping of babies, violence against children, marrying off school children, sodomy, early pregnancy and abandoning of children.

She elaborated that among the 432 cases reported in the region, about 232 cases concerned sexual violence involving children aged between 6 and 17 years.

The officer attributed physical desires, witchcraft beliefs and poverty as the motive behind such practices which are against cultural norms and human rights.

“A parent may receive a cow or money and then marry off his/her daughter without her consent, which denies the girl the right to education and she becomes a victim of sexual diseases and other risks” explained Ms Kasongo.

She underscored the need for wananchi to report cases involving sexual and gender violence in order to help the victims.

“Although we receive support from the community, still there are some parents who hide such information, and sometimes they even shift from their places of origin to avoid being witnesses in such cases.

I urge parents and guardians to be close to their children and avoid the habit of wasting most of their times on social media, and instead spend a lot of time talking and advising their children,” said Ms Kasongo.

Ms Fortunata Scander, the Gender Desk Officer of One Stop Centre at Sekou Toure Referral Hospital said that they provide psychological, medical and legal assistance to victims of violence.

They also assist doctors and victims to properly fill police Form No 3 (PF3) so that it can be useful for testimony in court cases because if it is not filled properly, it can be rejected in court.

Ms Scander revealed that from January to March this year, 78 victims of GBV came to the centre from Ilemela District to get services, whereby 69 were children below 18 years who faced violence, while 35 cases involved children between 10 and 13 years who were raped.

She revealed further 22 children aged between 11 to 17 years 22 were raped in the district, while 10 children below 18 years were impregnated at Ilemela District.

Ms Scander urged victims of violence to report early in the centre to get treatment and counselling, preferably before 72 hours, where they can get treatment, including Pep, which is prevention against HIV/AIDS and to properly fill PF3 forms.

Ms Suzana Mwaitenda, the Legal Officer of Tanzania Interfaith Partnership (TIP) urged victims of violence to use the one-stop centre to get services provided there so as to end GBV and SVAC.

“Because of failure to bring witnesses to courts and failure to fill PF3 forms properly can be a reason for dismissal of cases, a one-stop centre is the best place for ending this problem in our country,” she said.

Violence against women and children is a big challenge in the world today, where statistics from World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that in 2010, one among three women in the world has experienced physical violence or sexual violence in her life.

In Tanzania, four among 10 women have experienced physical violence, and 17 per cent have experienced sexual violence in their life, and another research in 2011 indicated that one boy among seven experienced sexual violence before they reach 18 years, and among the group, 71 per cent experienced physical violence.

World research shows that gender violence costs three to eight per cent of the world economy, and in Tanzania, more than 6.5 billion dollars, which is equal to seven per cent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) is used in those challenges.

 Joint human rights report by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) of Tanzania and the Zanzibar Legal Services Centre (ZLSC) indicate that 964 cases of domestic violence were reported to authorities in 2013.

The report written by the LHRC and ZLSC similarly notes that many Tanzanians ‘believe that beating women is an acceptable practise’ and that ‘women believe that they are supposed to be submissive to their husbands.

Sources state that women in Tanzania are taught to tolerate and accept acts of domestic violence perpetrated against them.

According to a report on GBV in Tanzania written by the International Centre for Research on Women which collected data through interviews with male and female participants in Dar es Salaam, Iringa, and Mbeya regions of Tanzania, indicate that physical violence is largely viewed as part of marriage.

Source: Daily News

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