Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory, or if abroad, from one’s parents. The Registration, Insolvency, and Trusteeship Agency estimated that 20 percent of the population had birth certificates in 2011, the latest year that nationwide statistics were available. Registration of births within three months is free; however, parents who register their babies after three months must pay a fee. Public services were not withheld from unregistered children.
In July 2013 the government launched a national birth registration system for under-five children to accelerate birth registration after years of stagnation. This program began in Mbeya region, and subsequently 130,000 children were registered in Mbeya using the mobile phone. With assistance from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), health workers registered children immediately and issued birth certificates free of charge to families.
Education: Primary education is compulsory and universal on both the mainland and Zanzibar until the age of 15. Tuition is free, but parents are required to pay for books, uniforms, and school lunches. Beginning in Form 1, the equivalent of the first year of high school, parents are required to pay enrollment fees. As a result many children did not attend secondary school.
Girls represented approximately half of all those enrolled in primary school but were absent more often than boys due to household duties. At the secondary level, boys represented a disproportionally high percentage of enrolled students, and child marriage and pregnancy often prevented girls from finishing school.
The Center for Reproductive Rights reported in September 2013 that more than 55,000 girls over the last decade had been expelled from school for being pregnant. Reportedly, as early as age 11, many schoolgirls were forced to undergo a pregnancy test in order to attend school.
Child Abuse: Violence and abuse against children was a major problem. The law allows head teachers to cane students, and corporal punishment in schools remained a problem, although less so than in previous years. The National Violence against Children Survey, conducted in 2009, found that almost three-quarters of children experienced physical violence prior to the age of 18. Of these, three out of five experienced physical violence from relatives, and one out of two from teachers. In April 2013 the government launched a three-year national plan to prevent and respond to violence against children and to address the findings of UNICEF’s report. The plan was to be integrated into programs across all key ministries, especially at community level through the support of the local government authority.
Early and Forced Marriage: The law provides that girls as young as 15 can marry with the consent of parents or guardians, although no consent is required for orphaned girls without guardians. The courts also have discretion to allow the marriages of 14-year-old girls in the case of pregnancy. Additionally, the law allows Muslim and Hindu girls to marry as young as 12 as long as the marriage is not consummated until the girl reaches age 15. To circumvent these laws, individuals reportedly bribed police or paid a bride price to the family of the girl to avoid prosecution. An estimated 37 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18, and 7 percent were married before the age of 15, according to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey. The law in Zanzibar does not specifically address early marriage.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C. Statutory penalties for performing FGM/C on girls under 18 range from five to 15 years’ imprisonment, a fine of TZS 300,000 ($187), or both. Some ethnic groups and families, however, continued the practice. According to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, 15 percent of women and girls ages 15 to 49 experienced FGM/C, and 7 percent of girls and women ages 15 to 19 were subjected to the practice. The practice was most common in the northern and central zones. Manyara’s prevalence rate was 71 percent, Dodoma’s 64 percent, Arusha’s 59 percent, Singida’s 51 percent, Mara’s 40 percent, Kilimanjaro’s 22 percent, Morogoro’s 21 percent, and Tanga’s 20.
Prosecutions were rare. Many police officers and communities were unaware of the law, victims were often reluctant to testify, and some witnesses feared reprisals from FGM/C supporters. Some villagers reportedly bribed local leaders not to enforce the law in order to carry out FGM/C on their daughters.
The 2001-15 National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children enlisted the support of practitioners and community leaders in eradicating FGM/C. As part of the effort, the government continued a three-year program to eradicate FGM/C by 2016 in the Mara Region, one of the most affected areas. According to Deputy Minister for Community Development, Gender, and Children Ummy Mwalimu, the government implemented a strategy to end FGM/C in the Tarime, Mara Region, through education on the harmful effects of the practice. The campaign targeted young girls, traditional elders, parents, and FGM/C practitioners.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law criminalizes child pornography and child prostitution. According to the National Survey on Violence against Children, approximately one in 25 girls ages 13-17 years reported they had received money or goods in exchange for sex. Persons found guilty of such offenses were subject to a fine ranging from TZS one million ($625) to TZS 500 million ($312,500), a prison term of one to 20 years, or both. There were no prosecutions based on this law during the year.
The law provides that sexual intercourse with a child under 18 years is rape regardless of consent, unless within a legal marriage. The law was not always enforced. Human rights activists and NGOs stated that the Law of Marriage Act, which provides for marriages of 14-year-old girls, needed amendment to reflect the criminality of sexual intercourse with a child.
According to the TAMWA, the incidence of child rape was rising, and the major causes included alcoholism, poor education, poverty, and superstition. According to the National Survey on Violence against Children, 27.9 percent of girls ages 13-24 reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual violence or inappropriate sexual contact before turning 18. Among boys in the same age group, 13.4 percent reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual violence prior to the age of 18.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: Infanticide continued to be a problem, especially among poor rural mothers who believed themselves unable to afford to raise a child. Nationwide statistics on infanticide were not available.
The LHRC reported several incidents during the year, including a mother who dumped her newborn child in a toilet in February and a father who strangled a toddler, also in February, during a dispute over the paternity of the child.
Displaced Children: Children living or working on the street had limited access to health and education services because they lacked a fixed address or money to purchase medicines, school uniforms, and books. These children were also vulnerable to sexual abuse.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For country-specific information see the Department of State’s report at http://travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/english/country/Tanzania.html.