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Human Rights in Tanzania
Flag of Tanzania Tanzania
Population: 36,588,225 (July 2004 est.)
Capital: Dar es Salaam
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Tanzania Human Rights Report
» intro | 1a | 1b | 1c | 1d | 1e | 1f | 2a | 2b | 2c | 2d | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6a | 6b | 6c | 6d | 6e | 6f

Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on nationality, ethnicity, political affiliation, race or religion; however, the Government did not always effectively enforce these prohibitions. Discrimination based on sex, age, or disability was not prohibited specifically by law but was discouraged publicly in official statements. Discrimination against women, refugees, and ethnic minorities persisted, and societal ethnic tensions continued to be a problem.

The Tanzania Parliamentarians' AIDS Coalition (TAPAC) addressed discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS. However, there were reports that discrimination--including limitations on housing, healthcare, and education--continued to occur against the 2 million persons in the country living with HIV/AIDS. There were isolated reports that private employers fired or did not hire persons based on the perception that they had HIV/AIDS.


Domestic violence against women remained widespread. The law does not specifically prohibit spousal battery. Action rarely was taken against perpetrators of physical abuse against women. Police often had biases against pursuing domestic abuse cases and demanded bribes to investigate allegations. Traditional customs that subordinate women remained strong in both urban and rural areas, and local magistrates often upheld such practices. It was accepted for a husband to treat his wife as he wished, and wife beating occurred at all levels of society. Women have been punished by their husbands for not bearing children. Cultural, family, and social pressures prevented many women from reporting abuses to authorities. The Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA), reported that as many as 60 percent of women were beaten by their husbands.

The law provides for life imprisonment for persons convicted of rape; however, rape continued to be a serious problem. Several persons were prosecuted and convicted for rape and battery under this law during the year. Sexual and gender-based violence continued to be a problem in the refugee camps (see Section 2.d.).

During the year, there was a reported increase in rape cases in Zanzibar. One official estimated that the majority of rape cases went unreported, and only 5 percent of actual rape cases were filed in a court of law. According to a Zanzibar High Court judge, those cases that were filed were often rejected in court due to a lack of evidence. Some police reportedly advised rape victims to clean themselves before going to hospitals for examinations, which contributed to the removal of important evidence. According to the Vuga Deputy Court Magistrate, between 2000 and June, 118 rape cases were filed at the Vuga Resident Magistrate's Court in Zanzibar; however, by year's end, none of the accused had been convicted, and 74 cases were still pending.

Between 10 and 18 percent of the female population underwent female genital mutilations (FGM). According to a 2002 survey conducted by the LHRC, based on data obtained through recent interviews and past surveys, FGM was performed on females in about half of the country's mainland regions, with the extent of the abuse varying by region. In Arusha and Tarime, FGM was openly and defiantly practiced before local authorities, with a prevalence rate of 85 percent among rural females in each region; in addition, approximately 100 percent of Arusha's Maasai females underwent FGM. Other regions with high FGM prevalence rates included Dodoma (68 percent), Mara (44 percent), and Kilimanjaro (37 percent).

The law prohibits the practice of FGM on any female under the age of 18; however, FGM still was performed at an early age by approximately 20 of the country's 130 main ethnic groups. There was no legal protection for adult women. On October 11, 3 women were sentenced to 30 years in prison for performing an FGM procedure on a 10-year-old girl in Singida, which resulted in the girl's death in July 2002. No action was taken in the October 2002 death of a young girl following an FGM procedure in Dodoma.

Reducing the practice of FGM remained difficult because police did not have adequate resources to protect victims, and some regional government officials favored the practice or feared speaking out against it because of the perceived political consequences of opposing FGM and the power of traditional leaders who supported FGM. Many communities were unaware of the law prohibiting FGM for females under 18, and some communities viewed the law as an unjust threat to societal tradition. A lack of medical information on the harmful and long-term health effects of FGM was also a problem; many communities believed FGM increased fertility, reduced sexual desires leading to prostitution, and reduced infant mortality. Many fathers believed they would receive higher "bride prices" for daughters who had undergone FGM; operators of FGM relied on the practice for income; and even when parents opposed the practice, some girls nonetheless underwent FGM to benefit from the traditional celebrations and gifts given by their communities following the mutilation.

Seminars sponsored by the Government and NGOs were held regularly to educate the public on the dangers of FGM and other traditional practices, such as the tradition of inherited wives, which critics contended contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The law prohibits prostitution; however, it remained common, including child prostitution. Poor rural woman, young girls immigrating to urban areas, and refugees were at high risk of engaging in prostitution. Prostitution resulting from sex tourism, particularly in Zanzibar, remained a problem (see Section 6.f.).

The law prohibits sexual harassment against women in the workplace. Male colleagues sometimes harassed women seeking higher education, and the authorities largely ignored the practice.

Although the Government advocated equal rights for women in the workplace, it did not ensure these rights in practice. In the public sector, which employed 80 percent of the salaried labor force, certain statutes restricted women's access to some jobs or hours of employment (see Section 6.e.). While progress on women's rights was more noticeable in urban areas, strong traditional norms still divided labor along gender lines and placed women in a subordinate position. Discrimination against women was most acute in rural areas, where women were relegated to farming and raising children and had almost no opportunity for wage employment. The Land Act overrides customary law if it denies women their right to use, transfer, and own land. Women's rights of co-occupancy are also protected.

The overall situation for women was less favorable in Zanzibar. Although women generally were not discouraged from seeking employment outside the home, women in Zanzibar and on many parts of the mainland faced discriminatory restrictions on inheritance and ownership of property because of concessions by the Government and courts to customary and Islamic law. While provisions of the law provide for certain inheritance and property rights for women, the application of customary, Islamic, or statutory law depended on the lifestyle and stated intentions of the male head of household. The courts have upheld discriminatory inheritance claims, primarily in rural areas. Under Zanzibar law, unmarried women under the age of 21 who become pregnant were subject to 2 years' imprisonment (see Section 1.f.).

Several NGOs provided counseling and education programs on women's rights problems, particularly sexual harassment, sexual and gender-based violence, molestation, and woman's legal rights.


Government funding of programs for children's welfare remained low. The Government made some constructive efforts to address children's welfare, including working closely with UNICEF and other international and local organizations to improve the well-being of neglected children and the country's 2 million orphans.

The law provides for 7 years of compulsory education through the age of 15; however, primary education, while tuition-free on the mainland, was not tuition-free in Zanzibar. Fees were charged on Zanzibar for books, uniforms, and enrollment beyond Form 2, the equivalent of the second year of high school; as a result, some children were denied an education. Parents also paid for uniforms on the mainland. The law provides for free primary school education for all children under the age of 12 on the mainland; however, there were inadequate numbers of schools, teachers, books, and other educational materials to meet the demand. In some cases, children were unable to attend school because poorly paid teachers demanded money to enroll them. The primary school dropout rate was between 30 and 40 percent, and net primary school enrollment/attendance was 47 percent. The literacy rate was approximately 70 percent; for girls it was 57 percent compared with 80 percent for boys. The rate of girls' enrollment in school was lower than that of boys and generally declined with each additional year of schooling. In some districts, the attendance of girls continued to decline as the result of the need to care for younger siblings, household work, and early marriage, often at the behest of parents. Despite a law to permit pregnant girls to continue their education following maternity absences, the practice of forcing pregnant girls out of school continued.

Corporal punishment in schools was a problem. For example, in November, a pupil at Mandangeni Kirua Vunjo Primary School in Moshi Rural District was admitted to the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) after his teacher allegedly beat him with a ruler.

Two thirds of new cases of HIV/AIDS infections occurred among youths. Both UNICEF and World Vision have HIV/AIDS awareness programs for children.

FGM was performed on girls, primarily in the central region (see Section 5, Women).

The law criminalizes child prostitution and child pornography. The minimum age for protection from sexual exploitation is 18 years. Under the law, sexual intercourse with a child under 18 years is considered rape regardless of consent; however, the law was not effectively enforced in practice because it was customary for girls as young as 14 years of age to be considered adults for the purposes of sexual intercourse and marriage. Child marriages are sanctioned under the law with parental consent for girls 12 years of age and older. There were reports of child prostitution and other forms of trafficking in children (see Section 6.f.).

There were reports that Burundian rebels recruited children from refugee camps in the country for use in Burundi as child soldiers and domestic servants in rebel camps.

Child labor was a problem (see Section 6.d.).

There were an estimated 815,000 children orphaned by AIDS. There were significant numbers of street children in both Dar es Salaam and Arusha. In the refugee camps, orphans were generally absorbed into other families. Those who were not absorbed generally qualified as extremely vulnerable individuals and received additional support and counseling.

Persons with Disabilities

Although there was no official discrimination against persons with disabilities, in practice, persons with physical disabilities effectively were restricted in their access to education, employment, and other state services due to physical barriers. The Government did not mandate access to public buildings, transportation, or government services for persons with disabilities and provided only limited funding for special facilities and programs.

Indigenous People

Pastoralist tribes experienced discrimination in schools for wearing traditional dress or ornaments. Government policy requires all children attending schools to wear uniforms.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Barabaig and other nomadic persons in the north continued to seek compensation for past government discrimination seeking to make them adopt a more modern lifestyle and to restrict their access to pastoral lands that were turned into large government wheat farms.

The Asian population, which was viewed unfavorably by many African citizens, was approximately 50,000 persons. There were no laws or official policies that discriminated against Asians; however, as the Government placed great emphasis on market-oriented policies and privatization, public concern regarding the Asian minority's economic role increased. This concern led to demands by small, populist opposition parties for policies of "indigenization" to ensure that privatization did not increase the Asian community's economic predominance at the expense of the country's African population.

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