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Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 16:04 GMT
Abused woman braves Tanzania's media
By John Ngahyoma
BBC, Dar es Salaam

Agnes Mbuyamajuu
I had just been beaten and run away in my night clothes, where would I get even one cent to give it to the police?
Agnes Mbuyamajuu

A Tanzanian woman, who endured bad beatings from her husband for more than five years, has braved the public glare of the cameras to speak out about her ordeal.

Agnes Mbuyamajuu told reporters that the police never took her complaints seriously and their corruption endangered her life.

"At night, in my nightdress, following a severe beating I would go to the police station, where I would have hoped that I would be safe and that the police would protect my life," she said at a press conference in Dar es Salaam.

"After opening a case file, they would turn around and say that I had to give them money for transport to go and bring in the suspect.

"I had just been beaten and run away from home in my night clothes, where would I get even one cent to give it to the police?"

A policeman in Tanzania
Police have promised to be more sympathetic to abused women

Ms Mbuyamajuu is among many women who suffer from domestic violence in Tanzania.

Her testimony was all the more moving as it is unusual for women to publicly discuss the subject.

"We all know that the majority of women who are abused tend to suffer in silence, they fear to come out in the open for many reasons like shame, reprisals or lack of information of where or how to seek assistance," deputy Gender Minister Salome Mbatia said.

Maimed

Both women were talking at an event this week to launch a special edition of the Sauti ya Siti (Voice of Woman) magazine to coincide with a national campaign against domestic violence, female genital mutilation, rape and trafficking.

The tardiness of the courts was also lambasted by Ms Mbuyamajuu.

Woman with her child in Tanzania (Copyright: UNPF/ B Wolff)
Women in Tanzania tend to suffer in silence

"The thing that has discouraged me is the fact that five years have gone by and my case has not yet been heard and all the injuries have now disappeared," she said.

"Tell me, the blow that I got in 2000, how can I describe it in 2006?

"In the same year I was maimed as a result of a severe beating, I was unable to move... Now, after treatment I manage to walk. What evidence can I show now?

"But if six years ago the court had listened to me, justice would have been done.

"But they kept on changing magistrates and moving the case from one court to another."

The police force promised to do all it can to fight gender-based violence.

However, its director of criminal investigations, Robert Manumba, said laws such as the 1998 sexual offences act are all very well but in practice changing public perception was more important.

As an example he said rapes and defilements were on the increase - incidences often associated with traditional belief in witchcraft - despite stiff penalties for such sexual offences.




SEE ALSO
Tanzania police phones revealed
07 Apr 06 |  Africa
Country profile: Tanzania
11 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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