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.
The LHRC stated there were 17,059 reported cases of gender-based violence, including 5,802 cases of rape, in 2015 (the latest figures available). The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children 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. Activities under the 2001-15 National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children continued. 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 (FGM/C): 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: in Manyara the prevalence rate among girls and women 15 to 49 years old was 71 percent, in Dodoma 64 percent, Arusha 59 percent, Singida 51 percent, Mara 40 percent, Kilimanjaro 22 percent, Morogoro 21 percent, and Tanga 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.
No new plan had replaced the 2001-15 National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children, although activities under the 2001-15 plan continued during the year. The plan 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. The campaign targeted girls, traditional elders, parents, and FGM/C practitioners, using advocacy, education, and information dissemination by government in cooperation with stakeholders to combat FGM/C.
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 place blame on victims of sexual harassment, and police rarely investigated cases. Even when reported, cases were often dropped before they got to court--in some instances by the plaintiffs due to societal pressure and in others by prosecutors due to lack of evidence.
Reproductive Rights: Couples have the ability to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 32 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. On the mainland, use of any contraceptive method among married women varied significantly by region, ranging from 57 percent in Ruvuma to 15 percent in Geita. In Zanzibar use varied from a high of 41 percent in Kusini Unguja to 9 percent in Kusini Pemba. 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 the UN Children’s Fund, the maternal mortality rate in 2015 was 398 deaths per 100,000 live births. 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; the law, however, also recognizes customary practices that often favor men. In particular women faced discriminatory treatment in the areas of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and nationality.
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 was traditionally less valued for women than men. Recent government policies encouraging girls to go to school 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, limited access to financing continued to hinder women’s participation in business.
Women experienced discrimination in employment and pay; problems were particularly acute in the informal sector.
Civil society activists reported widespread discrimination against women 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 60. The law on the mainland allows men to marry multiple wives in certain circumstances but does not allow women to have multiple husbands. Mainland law generally assumes it is in the best interest of a child under age seven to be with its mother if parents separate or divorce. In Zanzibar qadi courts handle inheritance, marital, and custody issues.