By ISSA YUSSUF, Zanzibar, 25th December 2011 @ 15:00, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 4162
COURTS and police stations remain havens for rapists in Zanzibar, argues anti- Gender Based Violence (GBV) activists, accusing law enforcers and the judiciary for freeing suspects. Activists, community members are asking what kind of evidence, law enforcers and magistrates need in dealing with Gender Based Violence (GBV) including rape.
“Some evidence is obvious. Some perpetrators including rapists are caught red-handed abusing children, but, to people’s surprise such cases are dismissed and rapists freed!” says Ms Mwandiwe Makame Kali, anti-GBV activist from Chaani village, north of Unguja. She says that it is high time prosecuting procedures including supporting evidence are reviewed should the community, police and the judiciary need to manage devastating cases of GBV in the islands.
Participants in a oneday Gender Based Violence (GBV) workshop held recently in Zanzibar observed that there is a need for police and magistrates to reform in the way they handle GBV cases. Ms Jina Mwinyi Waziri, a lawyer from the Zanzibar Legal Services Centre (ZLSC), says corruption is ‘embedded’ in the legal system.
She said that her centre has received different cases on women and child abuse, but “we are frustrated by some police officers and magistrates when they deliberately show sluggishness in handling GBV cases,” she says. Mr Faki Yussuf, a police officer from the GBV police help-desk in Zanzibar, admitted “it is true some police officers are corrupt and dishonest, but victims should not stop fighting for justice.
You are allowed even to seek help from Inspectors General of Police (IGP) directly.” Yussuf blamed members of the society of shunning court when it comes to giving evidence. “If you are summoned to give evidence and you do not appear, the magistrates will dismiss it. Please everyone should take responsibility in stopping the GBV.” “There is culture of not caring that whereby fathers, mothers, and neighbours, local leaders take no responsibility when a woman or a child is abused in village.
We need to change and act together against GBV,” says activist Ms Mwanajuma Kassim Makame from north Unguja. Mwajuma adds: “It is only through unity and commitment that we will be able to stop women and children abuse in the society.” Ms Fatma Ali Haji from Mnazi Mmoja main hospital’s GBV centre says:” The centre was opened early this year to provide speedy assistance to victims of physical abuse such as rape children and beaten women, receives 2-4 cases of abuse including rape daily.
The Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) - Zanzibar which has been conducting workshops and fora on GBV, say many cases of women and child abuse in Zanzibar are unreported, and the few that goes to police and court are dismissed under dubious circumstances. Ms Zuri Issa, TAMWA Coordinator in Zanzibar, and her colleague Ms Sabra Ali Mohamed emphasizes collective responsibility among pressures groups including media, NGOs, and local leaders, against GBV.
UNICEF’s Ms Jacqueline Namfua and Ms Georgina Mtenga also say that despite concerted efforts by different stakeholders to fight violence against children, the vice remains a major challenge in Zanzibar, appealing for support from the media. “Investigating and reporting all cases of child abuse can help in exposing the problem in Zanzibar where data is lacking.
Fortunately, awareness about child protection in the community has been growing, but the abuse remains!” Namfua said. Launching ‘The Child Abuse’ report in Zanzibar recently, the Second Vice- President, Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi, appealed for collective responsibility in protecting children in Zanzibar.
“Although we have a ministry responsible for child protection, the government alone cannot achieve the intended goal. Every member of the society has a great role in making sure that children are free from any form of violence,” said Idd. A lecturer from Muhimbili University College of Health and Allied Sciences, Mr Amani Anaeli, among the team which conducted the
research on child abuse in Zanzibar in 2009, says that the study have proved that many children still face sexual, physical, and emotional violence from perpetrators who, in most cases are relatives of the victims.
The United Nations (UN) Special Envoy on child abuse, Ms Marta Santos Pais, advises the government to educate children in schools about ‘violence against children’, saying the move may help prepare children to counter the problem.
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