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Tanzania: Information on the current situation of women including their status, conjugal violence, government and police response, available protection, polygamy, circumcision, and the government's attitude toward the promotion of women's equality

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 June 1994
Citation / Document Symbol TZA17622.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Tanzania: Information on the current situation of women including their status, conjugal violence, government and police response, available protection, polygamy, circumcision, and the government's attitude toward the promotion of women's equality, 1 June 1994, TZA17622.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac2828.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

Sexual discrimination in Tanzania is discouraged in official government statements, but is not prohibited in the country's constitution (Country Reports 1993 1994, 297). Women do not enjoy equal educational and employment opportunities, while Muslim women also face discriminatory restrictions on inheritance and property ownership (ibid.). Divorced Tanzanian women are denied the right to own land (IPS 4 Oct. 1993).

Violence against women in Tanzania is reported to be widespread (Country Reports 1993 1994, 297). Legal remedies apparently exist, but in practice are difficult to obtain (ibid.). Traditional customs subordinating women to men remain strong in both rural and urban areas, and wife-beating occurs at all levels of society, but cultural, social and family pressures often prevent women from reporting abuses to authorities (ibid.).

According to a professor of geography with expertise in African women's issues at Oxford University, women's concerns and claims are not taken seriously by Tanzanian courts or police officials (9 June 1994). The source stated that women can theoretically seek redress or protection through Tanzanian courts if they have the resources to do so, but that those who do are likely to be ostracized by their families and communities (ibid.). According to a study released by the Tanzanian Media Women's Association, up to 90 per cent of all sexual harassment incidents go unreported (IPS 12 Nov. 1993).

The source at Oxford stated that women's shelters were non-existent as of the late 1980's (9 June 1994). She did not know whether shelters have since been established, but stated that a number of women's advocacy groups have recently been formed (ibid.).

The source stated that polygamy continues to be practised among the country's Muslim and other ethnic groups (ibid.). She added that polygamy occurs at all levels of society (ibid.).        Female circumcision reportedly occurs throughout Tanzania (IPS 1 Apr. 1994). Although the government has not introduced legislation banning the practice (Country Reports 1993 1994, 297), the frequency of female circumcision has declined (Encyclopedia of the Third World 1992, 1865). Nevertheless, reports state that the practice is still performed by a minority of individuals in 20 of Tanzania's 120 mainland ethnic groups (ibid.). According to a report in Africa News, the practice affects at least five per cent of the total population (9 Aug. 1993).

For further information on the situation facing women in Tanzania, please refer to the attached documents.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Africa News. 9 August 1993. "Female Genital Mutilation: World Health Assembly Calls for the Elimination of Harmful Traditional Practices." (NEXIS)

County Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993. 1994. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Encyclopedia of the Third World. 1992. 4th ed. Vol. 3. Edited by George Thomas Kurian. New York: Facts on File.

Inter Press Service (IPS). 1 April 1994. Alpha Nuhu. "Tanzania-Women: Campaign Against Circumcision Launched." (NEXIS)

. 12 November 1993. Paul Chintowa. "Tanzania: Many Women Suffer in Silence." (NEXIS)

. 4 October 1993. Shelter: Women Lose Out in Search for Housing." (NEXIS)

Professor with expertise in African women's issues, Department of Geography, Oxford University. 9 June 1994. Telephone interview.

Attachments

Africa News. 9 August 1993. "Female Genital Mutilation: World Health Assembly Calls for the Elimination of Harmful Traditional Practices. (NEXIS)

County Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993. 1994. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, p. 297.

Encyclopedia of the Third World. 1992. 4th ed. Vol. 3. Edited by George Thomas Kurian. New York: Facts on File, p. 1865.

Inter Press Service (IPS). 1 April 1994. Alpha Nuhu. "Tanzania-Women: Campaign Against Circumcision Launched." (NEXIS)

. 25 November 1993. "Africa-Women: Up in Arms Over Gender Violence." (NEXIS)

. 12 November 1993. Paul Chintowa. "Tanzania: Many Women Suffer in Silence." (NEXIS)

. 19 October 1993. "Tanzania: Old Marriage Practices Contributing to Aids Spread." (NEXIS)

. 4 October 1993. "Shelter: Women Lose Out in Search for Housing." (NEXIS)

. 10 March 1993. Edna Ndejembi. "Tanzania: Teenage Girls Risk Their Lives Through Early Marriages." (NEXIS)

. 24 July 1992. Paul Chintowa. "Tanzania: Early Pregnancy Forces Girls Out of School." (NEXIS)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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