Rape and Domestic Violence: The law provides for life imprisonment for persons convicted of rape, including spousal rape during periods of legal separation. The law stipulates a woman wishing to report a rape must do so at a police station before seeking medical help. Only after obtaining a release form from police may she be admitted to a hospital. This process contributed to medical complications, incomplete forensic evidence, and failure to report rapes. Victims often feared that cases reported to police would be made public.
The law prohibits assault but does not specifically prohibit domestic violence. Domestic violence may serve as grounds for divorce. Domestic violence against women remained widespread, and police rarely investigated such cases.
In 2014 a biannual report issued by the Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) stated there were 2,878 reported incidents of rape and 3,633 other reported cases of abuse of women and children from January to June 2014, although these crimes were probably significantly underreported. The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization identified the main forms of gender-based violence as wife-beating (30 percent of cases), defilement (25 percent), rape (20 percent), sexual exploitation (13 percent), and marital rape (12 percent). According to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, 45 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. The Deputy Director of Criminal Investigations on Zanzibar stated that through November 78 cases of sexual violence were reported.
Cultural, family, and social pressures often prevented women from reporting abuse, including rape and domestic violence, and authorities rarely prosecuted persons who abused women. Persons close to the victims, such as relatives and friends, were most likely to be the perpetrators. Many who appeared in court were set free because of corruption in the judicial system, lack of evidence, poor investigations, and poor evidence preservation.
A report by the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) released in 2014 found courts adjudicated few rape cases due to factors including lack of evidence, repeated adjournment of cases, alleged perpetrators jumping bail, witnesses unwilling to appear in court or unable to pay for transport to court, and a legal requirement for a doctor’s report.
According to the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association, there were 161 gender-based violence cases reported in Mwera and Mfenesini district courts and the Land Tribunal. Of these, 25 cases were continuing, and two had resulted in convictions.
There were some government efforts to combat violence against women. The government continued its 2001-15 National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children. Police maintained 417 gender and children desks in regions throughout the country to support victims and address relevant crimes. Women often tolerated prolonged domestic abuse before seeking a divorce, due to fear of retaliation, loss of support, shame, and family pressure. In Zanzibar at One Stop Centers in both Unguja and Pemba, victims could receive health services, counseling, legal assistance, and a referral to police.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: The law prohibits FGM/C from being performed on girls under the age of 18, but it does not provide for protection to women ages 18 or older. According to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, 15 percent of women and girls ages 15 to 49 were subjected to 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 among girls and women15 to 49 years old 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 percent.
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 area of Mara Region, through education on the harmful effects of the practice. The campaign targeted girls, traditional elders, parents, and FGM/C practitioners.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment of women in the workplace. Statistics did not exist on its extent or the effectiveness of enforcement. There were reports women were asked for sexual favors in return for promotions. According to the Women’s Legal Aid Center, many women did not report sexual harassment since cultural norms often placed blame on victims of sexual harassment, and police rarely investigated cases.
Reproductive Rights: Couples have the ability to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to manage their reproductive health; and to have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 27 percent of girls and women ages 15 to 49 used a modern form of contraception. The relatively low rate was due in part to cultural factors, lack of transportation to health clinics, and shortages of contraceptives. The government provided free prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum services but lacked qualified health-care professionals as well as medical supplies to offer these services widely.
According to a 2013 UN Population Fund report, the maternal mortality ratio was 460 deaths per 100,000 live births, and a woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death was one in 38. Skilled health personnel attended approximately 49 percent of births. Major factors influencing high maternal mortality included the low rate of attendance by skilled personnel, high fertility rate, and poor quality of many medical facilities.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men, including under family, property, labor, nationality, and inheritance laws, gives individuals the right to use, transfer, and occupy land without regard to gender, and recognizes women’s occupancy rights (all land in the country legally belongs to the government). Implementation of the law was difficult because the law also recognizes customary practices that often favor men and because most women were unaware of the law.
While overt discrimination in areas such as education, credit, business ownership, and housing was uncommon, women, especially in rural areas, faced significant disadvantages due to cultural, historical, and educational factors. In much of the country, education has been traditionally less valued for women than men. Recent government policies encouraging girls to go to school have contributed to increases in school attendance by girls.
Lack of collateral has historically limited women’s access to credit, which has restricted women’s business ownership. Despite improvements in access to bank loans and small credit cooperatives, such factors continued to hinder women’s participation in business.
Women experienced discrimination in employment and pay; problems were particularly acute in the informal sector (see section 7.d., Worker Rights/Discrimination).
Civil society activists reported widespread discrimination in property matters against women involved in inheritance and divorce proceedings. Women were especially vulnerable if they initiated the separation from their partners or if their partners died. Women have the same status as men under labor law on the mainland. In Zanzibar the law states the normal retirement age for women is 55 and for men is 60. The law on the mainland allows men to marry multiple wives in certain circumstances but does not allow women to have multiple husbands. The law on the mainland generally assumes it is in the best interest of a child under seven to be with his or her mother in the case of parental separation or divorce. In Zanzibar qadi courts handle inheritance, marital, and custody issues.