Data key to reducing violence against women and children in Tanzania

What you need to know:

  • Data  significant in public interest litigation, monitoring and evaluation as well as enhancing effective planning, interventions and campaigns.

Dar es Salaam. The government has been challenged to increase investment in data generation in order to efficiently and effectively curb violence against women and children (VAWC).

The challenges were aired recently during a breakfast meeting organised by Policy Forum to mark the 16 days of activism.

Tabling the presentation themed: How Data Plays a Role in Ending Violence against Women and Children, Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) head of programme research Fundikila Wazambi said that timely and accurate data was critical in addressing VAWC.

“We need to understand the scale of the issue, especially the most affected individuals, places, exact reason and what exactly transpired,” he said.

Outlining the importance, Mr Wazambi said that data is significant in understanding magnitude of the problem, determining prevalence, alerting the public about different forms of violence, informing policies and programmes and facilitating data-driven advocacy.

He said data was important in public interest litigation, monitoring and evaluation as well as enhancing effective planning, interventions and campaigns.

“In some countries, violence against women costs countries up to 3.7 percent of their Gross Domestic (GDP),” he said, quoting a World Bank (WB) report.

“Women from abusive homes are likely to work fewer hours and are less productive,” he added, quoting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 2021 report.

In Tanzania, he said women experience physical, sexual, economic, and psychological as well as female genital mutilation (FGM) violence against women.

He said physical violence was the biggest threat to women’s freedom from violence, noting that the vice was common in domestic settings among intimate partners, saying that in extreme cases, it leads to femicide.

Mr Wazambi said the findings of the LHRC femicide study show that 472 cases have been reported in Tanzania from January to September 2022, which is equal to 53 cases per month.

However, he noted that the lack of gender-disaggregated data remained a challenge in the documentation and analysis of femicide.incidents.

According to him, 48 percent of the women have survived intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime, and one in four women has experienced IPV over the last 12 months.

“Women constitute the overwhelming majority of Intimate Partner Homicide (IPH) victims, which is equivalent to over 90 percent. Technological advancement has seen women and children also facing violence on digital platforms (cyber-violence),” he said.

“Women also experience rape, sexual harassment, marital sodomy, marital rape, and sextortion. Women in politics also experience different forms of violence, including sexual violence and character assassination,” he added.Regarding the children, Mr Wazambi said children experience sexual, physical, economic, and psychological violence, noting that sexual violence was the biggest threat to children’s rights.

He said over two thirds of reported incidents of violence against children (VAC) are sexual, girls constituting to over two thirds of rape victims. Furthermore, he said rape accounts to over half of crimes against persons as documented by police with boys constituting to over 80 percent of sodomy victims.

“Girls are more likely than boys to disclose child sexual abuse with female children continue to suffer from other forms of GBV such as child marriage, teen pregnancy, and FGM,” he said.

“Other acts of VAC include child neglect, child trafficking, as well as child labour and exploitation. Social acceptance of VAC is a key driver; others include poverty and parental illiteracy,” he added.

He said the study recommended increased investment in data generation, addressing incidents of underreporting, and an increased budget for the National Action Plan (NPA) for VAWC implementation.

Sharing her opinion, Ms Chikulupi Kasaka from the Embassy of the Netherlands said that despite increasing challenges, there was a sharp decline in morality.

She said that in the past, children used to belong to the community and that society was responsible for rectifying misbehaving children, noting that on the contrary, things have changed nowadays.

“We also established that it is not all about children, but we forget about men who are also victims of GBV. Most of the men say they don’t know where to report incidents of violence,” she said.

“Once they go to police stations, they just end up being laughed at and mocked. We are therefore recommending the adaptation of different types of reporting mechanisms, such as calls, text messages, and using online reporting systems,” she said.

Ms. Emma Kimambo suggested that gender-based violence (GBV) advocates should defend and speak for the boys who face the same situation from close relatives whom they trust.

Gathered data speaks about violence perpetrated against girls, noting that rare statistics were available for addressing the trend affecting boys.“How are children who have reported such incidents protected?” Education should be provided to those behind the revelation, and respective laws should be formulated and endorsed,” she said.

LHRC’s advocacy officer, Maduhu William, urged the government to improve data interpretation in order to meet demand, noting that all over the world, information provision is supported by available data.

He said the authorities’ delay in providing permission to researchers to research different issues of national interest has triggered reliance on second-hand data that includes newspapers, emphasising that data was the first advocacy criteria.