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Public awareness vital to address wife battery effects

During the incident, Nasra suffered broken ribs, leg fracture and deep cuts on her body. One of her ears was also reported to be severed.

Nasra was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (IC U) at Mwanza-based Bugando Referral Hospital for about 21 days. Even after the incident, the husband reported to be still at large, was reported to have vowed to finish her off.

There were reports that the man sent assassins to the hospital kill her. It was at this point that the Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children Affairs, Ms Sophia Simba, travelled to Mwanza and visited her at the hospital. She asked for police protection to Nasra following threats against her life.

According to the minister, although the man was still at large, police will hunt and make sure he was brought before the law. Five months after the incident the man is nowhere to be found. Nasra was later transferred to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) for more specialized treatment.

She died early this week from the injuries she sustained from the ordeal. Nasra’s ordeal is a typical of cases of wife battery currently being reported in several parts of the country, with such cases being on increase.

The case is the latest in series of several others reported to other districts in the country covered during the study conducted by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) in April, this year, in 20 districts of Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.

The study was conducted in; Morogoro (Mvomero), Mtwara (Newala), Shinyanga (Kahama), Dar es Salaam (Ilala, Temeke and Kinondoni), Kilimanjaro, (Same), Coast (Mkuranga) Mara (Tarime), Manyara (Simanjiro),Tanga (Handeni), Kigoma (Kasulu), Iringa (Kilolo), Mbeya (Rungwe) Singida (Iramba), Dodoma (Kondoa ), Arusha (Karatu) and Njombe (Njombe).

IN Zanzibar the study was conducted in Kaskazini Pemba, (Micheweni and Wete), Kusini Pemba (Chake Chake) Kaskazini Unguja (Kaskazini A, Kaskazini B), Kusini Unguja (Kusini Unguja), Mjini Magharibi (Central District). Five priority areas were selected for the study which are; rape, forced marriages, wife battery, abandoned children and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The association, in its five-year strategic plan (2009-2014) planned to engage in activities that aim to raise public awareness on the magnitude of wife battery in the country. The study findings indicate that wife battery is on increase in several parts of the country, and one of the factors that contribute to denying women and girls their rightful placesin the society.

It was realized, in the study, that wife battery has now become a normal occurrence in several parts of the country. In several families, men have found pleasure in beating their spouses, attributing alcoholism, masculinity, adultery suspicions, patriarchal system, ignorance of the Marriage Act (1971), jealousy, forced marriage and polygamy.

According to a study, about 39 per cent of women in the country, aged between 15 years and above, have suffered one form of violence in their lifetime, one of them being battery. Another study conducted in Zanzibar indicates that a total of 268 cases of genderbased violence were reported in 2011 alone, but only 55 cases were reported into courts of law and only one case was concluded in favour of the victim.

It was realized, from the study findings, that contradictions between the Marriage Act (1971) and SOSPA (1989), traditional practices that discriminate against women and girl child also contribute to increased cases of gender based violence.

Citing examples, study findings observed that in Temeke District, Dare s Salaam region, the District Magistrate, Fatma Katunzi, says a total of 14 wife battery cases were reported to the Primary Court in 2011 alone. Six out of the reported cases were concluded in which two of them were concluded in favour of the battery victims.

Mr Muharami Mlawa, the chairperson of Msufini area, Chamazi Ward in Temeke District, says five cases of wife battery are reported in his office almost daily. Same cases are reported in Majimatitu area in Charambe Ward, according to its chairpersom, Mr Fadhili Mpinga. In Simanjiro District, according to the study findings, a resident of Uhuru village, in Orukasment Ward, Ms Neema Lalashe (46) said several women have been admitted to hospital as a result of beating from their husbands.

“This has also changed, in the past a woman would by tied on the tree, beaten until she becomes unconscious,” she explains. Reports from the Maasai community in Arusha and Manyara regions say although women are beaten, the traditional practices forbid them to take the matter to court.

“Even if the woman is badly beaten, the husband takes the liberty to slaughter a ship and give the fats to his wife as treatment,” says Ms Leah Saitobiki, a member of the village government.

The women also are not willing to reveal that they have been beaten by their husbands, the fact that makes it difficult to get reliable data on the seriousness of the problem among the Maasai community, according to Mr Athumani Mkubwa, the Ward Executive Officer for Mwembe Ward.

Ms Wandoa Edward, a resident of Kisiriri village, Kisiriri Ward, in Iramba District, Singida region, said she has been married for five years but she wished to go back home, citing beatings she sufferers from her husband. But, according to her, her father received cows in the form of dowry.

She said the father used the cows to pay dowry when her younger brother got married three years ago. “They would not let me go home for fear of being asked to return the cows back,” she says. Reports from Mbeya region indicate that several marriages were dissolved because of beatings.

A total of 22 people interviewed admitted wife battery is a big problem in the region. Ms Lucia Gwamaka, a resident of Mpandapanda village, said wife battery is an ordinary issue in the Southern Highlands region. “Yes, we are facing beating problems from our husbands. But it becomes difficult to take our husbands to the police because we do not know the outcome.

I always think of my children, if I take him to the police I will not be able to come back home, where will I go?” she wondered. In Kilolo District, Iringa region, there are reports of village leaders taking laws in their own hands. A case was reported from Kidabaga village whereby pregnant women got miscarriages as a result of beating from the village government leaders.

Mr Nicholaus Katandasi, the village chairperson and Mr Vincent Gafalo, the Village Executive Officer, respectively, were accused of beating Ms Seidina Kidwangise and caused her miscarriage.

Iringa Regional Medical Officer (RMO) Dr Deogratias Manyama,  onfirmed, in April this year, to have admited Ms Seidina who was unable to walk and her body was swollen from the beatings. Villagers interviewed expressed concern that although the village government leader was taken to court, they do not believe justice would be done due to corruption.

It is a known fact that some sections of the society still regard women as inferior to men and some men think and decide for women on what they should do and not do. Also in some families, girls are treated differently from boys.

Several interventions are in place to ensure that gender dimensions are central to all development plans at all levels. This includes the enactment of laws and review of the existing ones including the Marriage Act (1971) and SOSPA (1989). The international instruments, of which Tanzania is a signatory, stress the need to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls and ensure gender equality at all levels of development.

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