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Key findings
  • Tanzanians see gender-based violence (GBV) as the most important women’s-rights issue that their government and society must address.
  • Eight out of 10 citizens (80%) say violence against women and girls is “not very common” or “not at all common” in their communities.
  • More than eight in 10 Tanzanians (83%) say it is “never justified” for a man to use physical force to discipline his wife.
  • A majority (59%) of respondents say it is unlikely that a woman who reports GBV to the authorities will be criticised, harassed, or shamed by others in the community, but 40% consider such negative consequences “somewhat” or “very” likely. o Most Tanzanians (92%) believe that the police are likely to take cases of GBV seriously.
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of citizens say domestic violence should be treated as a criminal matter rather than as a private matter to be resolved within the family.

Four in 10 Tanzanian women have experienced physical violence, and 17% have suffered  sexual violence. Only about half of survivors seek assistance. Three in 10 girls experience  sexual violence before the age of 18, and more than one in three are married as minors (United Republic of Tanzania, 2016; UNICEF Tanzania, 2011).  

While the country’s legal framework reflects its commitment to fighting gender-based  violence (GBV), including national action plans on violence against women and against  children, the World Bank’s (2022) Tanzania Gender Based Violence Assessment notes that its  laws lack prohibitions against domestic violence and marital rape and that enforcement  suffers from weak investigations, under-reporting, and corruption. 

In collaboration with United Nations agencies and civil society organisations, the government  has undertaken a range of initiatives to address GBV, including the creation of one-stop  centres across the country to support women and girls with psychological counselling, health care, and legal services. The police, whose stations have established gender desks, report a  decline in GBV cases from 42,414 in 2020 to 29,373 in 2021 (Legal and Human Rights Centre,  2022).  

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9  (2021/2023) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions of gender based violence.  

Survey findings show that an overwhelming majority of Tanzanians say it is never justified for a  man to use physical force to discipline his wife, and that most citizens say violence against  women and girls is not a common occurrence in their community. Even so, gender-based  violence (GBV) ranks No. 1 among the most important women’s-rights issues that Tanzanians  want their government and society to address. A majority consider GBV a criminal matter  requiring the involvement of law enforcement rather than a private matter to be handled  within the family.  

Most citizens say the police are likely to take GBV cases seriously, but many also consider it  likely that a woman who reports such violence to the police will be criticised, harassed, or  shamed by others in the community.  

Derick Msafiri

Derick Msafiri is an intern for REPOA, the Afrobarometer national <br /> partner in Tanzania.