Posted on | februari 21, 2012 | No Comments
This counsel was given by Ms Agnes Mwasembo when speaking to human rights defenders in Mbozi town, Mbeya region, Southern Highlands of Tanzania recently, during a visit to her office by representatives of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRD).
The survey was aimed at looking ways of merging activities of human rights activists and employees in the social welfare department and NGOs in seeking for gender parity.
Ms Mwasembo, apart from being a district community officer is an activist, and deputy secretary with the Mbeya based Human Rights National Association of Educators for World Peace. The NGO has been dealing with the needy, amongst the population with regard to human rights issues.
She says in her office she has been receiving cases of desertion, domestic violence, abandoned children, street children and matrimonial conflict, where some cases are still in court at present. She elaborates that it is hardest for widows who are so often kicked out of their family houses.
“I have been receiving sad cases where women are harassed, pointed to as having bewitched their husbands, and even at times blamed that they are the source of HIV/Aids infection in cases where their spouses have passed away as a result of this deadly disease,” she said.
She was supported by Ms Gift Sichone, a social welfare officer who says that in many matrimonial separations which her office has handled, she has witnessed a wrangle over child care where the two sides claim that they can look after the children well, but that is not true in many cases. “It is sadly true that at times divorcees claim the children simply because they know that this will guarantee them a flow of money, but men want to take their children simply because they want to cut off communications with their former spouses altogether, this is a serious challenge,” she commented.
She further related that in situations of this nature women were susceptible to Gender Based Violence (GBV), particularly if they had established new matrimonial relationships, and since it is a right for both parents to see their children there was always a necessity to escort them in order to avoid intimidation.
Statistics at the Mbozi offices indicate that from December 2010 to December 2011 there were 16 GBV cases that reached the district welfare office. In the same period there were three estate and land cases regarding widows who had been kicked out of their homes.
Two cases reached the office where women had lost everything after their husbands passed away, four cases were resolved in the same office. In Tunduma one parent who was granted care of the children after a separation had submitted a written statement not allowing his former wife to visit their children in their boarding school.
In the same period there were four rape cases but it is claimed that family members and some Police officials had colluded for an out-of-court settlement. Efforts to get comments from the Mbozi OCD, Vitus Dudu, proved futile.
AUTHOR: Elias Mhegera
E-MAIL: mhegeraelias [at] yahoo.com