This work will elaborate the domestic violence by viewing the nature and causes of domestic
violence, women’s dignity in the society, the position of Tanzanian laws in undermining and
promoting such dignity, international instrument concerning domestic violence and women’s
dignity and judicial interpretation on such. (Case laws). Finally the conclusion and suggestion on
what to be done so as to carter domestic violence and promoting women’s dignity in Tanzania
A woman is any female person1
, violence may mean any brutality and acts of cruelty, while
dignity means honour and authority; reputation. Domestic violence involves some brutal or
cruelty acts towards the women’s by other members of the society such as torture. Acts against
women’s Dignity involves discrimination, alienation, oppression and all sort of disrespect by the
Domestic violence refers to the acts like torture which is the act of inflicting physical or mental
injury. For example corporal punishment and psychological torture, the acts which lowers
women’s dignity are early marriage, rape, polygamy, denial of right to education, expression,
inequality in opportunities of participation in public affairs, work, right to life and others of
inhuman and degrading activities.
Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and aggressive behaviors from one adult, usually a
man, towards another, usually a woman, within the context of an intimate relationship. It can be
physical, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse. Financial abuse and social isolation are also
Section 129A of The Law of Marriage Act CAP 29 R.E 2002
Conceptual Identification of domestic violence
Domestic violence is the brutal activities or rather of cruelty against other person within the
society. It may involve beating (physical torture) and mental torture. Corporal punishment is the
example of physical torture with all the procedures to inflict pain to human body.
Mental torture is the things which may make someone to be depressed, feeling undermined or the
state of being unhappy. Domestic violence may be caused by: Lack of education on the proper
way of solving disputes, and that a woman has the same status just as men and lack of society
say against domestic violence.
It can also be defined as a pattern of controlling and aggressive behaviors from one adult, usually
a man, towards another, usually a woman, within the context of an intimate relationship. It can
be physical, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse. Financial abuse and social isolation are
also common features.
Another reason is from ideological perspective that by paying of bride price some men in the
society took the advantage of assuming that a woman is a commodity they have bought by sums
of money or things. They feel to have absolute control over a woman, that she have nowhere to
go and that she has to oblige with anything a man says.
Domestic violence is physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within
an intimate or family-type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.
This can include forced marriage and so-called 'honour' crimes. Domestic violence often includes
a range of abusive behaviour not all of which are, in themselves, inherently 'violent' - hence
some people prefer to use the term 'domestic abuse' rather than 'domestic violence'.
Consideration of women’s dignity
Woman’s dignity means honour and authority; reputation to a woman. This includes respect a
woman is having in the society. A woman in a society needs to be respected as men, given equal
opportunity in all spheres be given a chance to be by her own and mostly to be independent in
There are several things which maintain women’s dignity which some of them are the level of
education, self respect, participation on society’s activities, sense of determination, and
recognition within the society as valuable persons. On other hand things like discrimination,
disrespect among women’s, inferiority complex, low-level of involvement in communities based
activities, lack of support from the government and NGO’S (Non-governmental Organization),
lack of self determination lowers women’s dignity.
In Tanzania women’s dignity is still low due to the low effort made so far to upgrade women’s
dignity due to the aforesaid. For example in some societies women’s are still discriminated from
acquiring the same right ass men’s such as right to education and participation in public affairs.
They are considered week and unsuccessful.
In some incidences, women’s themselves are degrading their own dignity by participating in to
immoral activities like prostitution, drugs, which are unacceptable in the societies. Another
factor is the historical ideologies that since the medieval errors they have been considered week
and less productive in the society.
The situation in Tanzania is improving. Now days is woman is considered resourceful than
before due to the joint effort of the government and NGO’S (Non-governmental Organization on
promoting woman’s dignity to a promising level. The society is awake that a woman can do
everything a man does only if they are facilitated.
It has been done through education to the society, also by the fight of the women’s by themselves
through different organizations such as UWT (Umoja wa wanawake Tanzania) and human right
centers to fight against discrimination. Also by government through legislation
Status of the law and society in Tanzania
The law in Tanzania, in several ways has been on the front line in defending women’s against
domestic violence and to maintain their dignity ("honour and authority; reputation”). The laws
are in the position to ensure that women’s are not subjected to any form of discrimination torture
so as to ensure their peaceful living in the societies. The laws rather protect their dignity as
respectable persons in the society against those who thinks that women’s are no body in the
To ensure that women’s are not subjected to domestic violence, such as beatings by their
husbands or by other members of the society, the laws prohibit torture of the wives by their
husbands. Torture refers to the deliberate systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental
injury or suffering. Torture destroys human beings life, personality and identity.
The law of marriage Act provides the section which prohibits the infliction of the corporal
punishments on the spouses by their husbands. The law indicates that no person has any right to
inflict corporal punishment on his or her spouse2
The above section of the law of marriage act prevents torture by the way of beating, or corporal
punishment by spouses as the means of preventing domestic violence. A good number of the
African society’s marriage has the said problem.
The domestic violence is in turn also to the ladies in the societies on various occasions. It is due
to the women’s creation that are said to be natural weak physically that they cannot fight with the
The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977 ( as amended from time to time)
provides that no one should be deprived his right to life3
. It is the part of protecting women’s
from domestic torture which can result to the death of women’s. To make the right to life
affective provision of the law, the courts imposes serious punishments to anyone who deprived
others right to life (women’s included) of death penalty4
Section 66 of The Law of Marriage Act CAP 29 R.E 2002
Section 196&197 0f the Penal Code R.E 2002
The laws in Tanzania concerning the dignity of women’s are taking the matter in two way
dimensions. This is to the meaning that there are laws which promote and which undermine the
dignity of women’s. The laws which undermine or destroy women’s dignity (respect and
The law of marriage Act allows the girl of fifteen years to get marriage under the parental
consent. Under this age a girl is not very much matured physically and mental to accommodate
the marital responsibility and on other hand the law lowers their reputations. In a wide range by
this age a woman has to be at school, where in a long run the right to education may be at risk to
these young ladies5
The law also recognizes the polygamy marriage where a man has the ability of marry more than
one woman. The issue of polygamy degrades the respect of women’s in the society that on the
way round they are taken as of having less value6
The laws in Tanzania do not recognize marital rape. There is no provision in any law in Tanzania
which encounter the problem while exists. The law only recognizes rape as forceful act of sexual
intercourse out of marriage.7
However in marriages women’s are forced sometimes to have
sexual intercourse against their will but the laws in our country are silence on that. By this way
their dignity is at great risk. In England the law recognizes marital rape as it was decided in the
case of R vs. R that the man was held liable for raping his wife.
Other law is playing the great role in empowering woman’s dignity in Tanzania on sense that
respect and women’s honour are respected. There are provisions which recognize women’s as
having the same status as men’s in all spheres.
The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania offers for the equal opportunity before the
to all people. In this context women’s dignity is adhered contrary to the previous times
where a woman was of less status than a man in the legal status. For instance one man’s evidence
was equal to two women’ evidence
Section 13 of The Law of Marriage Act CAP 29 R.E 2002
Section 10 ibid
Section 130 Penal Code R.E. 2002
Article 13 The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977(as amended from time to time)
It also provide the right to work, that every citizen is entitled to equal opportunity and rights to
equal terms to hold any office or discharge any function under the state authority, and entitled to
remuneration without any discrimination. On this context the discrimination according to sex is
prohibited that women’s have the same status as men’s9
Women’s have the right of owning personal property and has the right to the protection of her
property held accordance with the law, that it is unlawful for a woman to be deprived of her
property just as men in the society10
Freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of participation
to public affairs 11
are the constitutional rights which all together in one way or another promoted
women’s dignity in Tanzania.
Women’s dignity is still undermined in some society in Tanzania due to the denial of the right to
education among women’s. Some societies such as Maasai societies prefer boys to get education
that females on the ground that boys are prone o family responsibility at the future that the
woman who is going to get marriage and to benefit her husband’s family instead of her original
family. Right to education is the universal right to all despite the gender, that the government has
the duty to ensure equitable opportunity to all.12
For example currently the government in ensuring equal opportunity it has a plan of reaching the
equal participation of male and female in public affairs especially in the representation in the
parliament by 2015.
The immoral activities against women’s are the contributing factors toward towards lowering
women’s esteem/reputation. For example sexual violence, The Penal code prohibits them by
imposing severe punishment which may range to a life imprisonment13
Marriage Act provides the opportunity of ownership of separate property. Women’s are in a
position of owning separate properties as men. Marriage shall not operate to change the
Article 23 ibid
Article 24 ibid
Article 18,19,20 and 21ibid
Section 130& 131
ownership of any property to which either the husband or the wife may be entitled or to prevent
either the husband or the wife from acquiring, holding and disposing of any property.14
Sexual Offences Special provision Act (SOSPA)15
keeps women’s dignity in a positive scope by
strictly punishing the sexual offences so as to keep respect to women’s. Offences like rape and
any other of sexual harassment have been set tight so as to minimize sexual offences which in a
great scope undermine women’s dignity.
The Beijing conference launched by women’s all over the world to defend women’s dignity and
equal rights among all people was a instrument to awake the world that a woman is just the same
Section 58 and 59 of The Law of Marriage Act CAP 29 R.E 2002 also section 161 of the land act CAP 113 R.E 2002
Act number 4 0f 1998
as man and she is entitled to the same rights just as man. Also to stop the violence against a
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was a very important resourceful declaration
toward bringing the equal status to all people in the world16
. It provides that everyone has the
right to life, liberty and security.17
Torture has been said to be abolished as to cater the issue of torturing the all people. That it is
against human, as it has been defined as the deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of
physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the order of any
There conventions which tell about the dignity, are that which advocate on the private property
ownership, use and enjoyment according to the interest of the society19
.The guarantee against
discrimination goes hand to hand with the current spirit of the international community which
emphasize on equality among all. This was by the universal Declaration of Human right of
United Nations have played its role on empowering women’s since then. It advocated against
gender discrimination by eliminating all forms of gender discrimination. For example the period
of 1976 to 1986 was declared officially the decade of women’s.
Judiciary has played its great role in determining disputes concerning all matters of domestic
violence and women’s dignity in Tanzania. In modern words it has given justice to those affected
Article 2 of the European convention for protection of human rights 1950
Article 3 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Tokyo declaration 1975
American convention on human rights Article 21
with the violence also it has maintained women’s dignity in several ways to ensure that they are
The court discourages domestic violence and the acts which lower women’s dignity by inflicting
severe punishment, such as fines and imprisonment.
In the case of Bi Hawa Mohamed vs. Ally Seif the court favored the woman on the issue of the
properties contrary to the argument that she was a mere house wife that she did not contribute to
the house in dispute. The court held that she contributed through the domestic activities.
In the case of R vs. Juma Legeza20
, the accused while drunk slapped his wife several times for
adulterous confession she made, and later of he beat her with stick and left her naked in her bed.
As he found her dead due to the injuries she suffered, he pleaded provocation in the court. He
was sentenced to life imprisonment for his unreasonably deed.
R vs. Ally Said21
, the accused was charged with murder of his wife after the suspicious he has
that his wife is committing adultery. The court held such husband liable for murder of his
deceased wife. Jonathan v. Republic, Criminal Appeal No. 53 of 2001, HC MOSHI
Appellant Jonathan, with 3 companions armed with sticks and machetes, forcibly seized a 23-
year-old woman from her home, took her to his house, and raped her. The appellant claimed that
his conduct had been permissible as a traditional marriage under customary norms. Judge E.
Munuo, as she then was, found that the sexual encounter was violent and nonconsensual and held
that without volition, there could be no marriage between the parties under Tanzania’s Marriage
Act, which provides that "Marriage means the voluntary union of a man and a woman."
On the current Tanzania societies the domestic violence is in decreasing rate due to increase of
societies awareness, education, and the activity of the women’s Non Governmental organizations
1969 H.C.D 244
1990 TLR 137
such as U.W.T. the organizations which plays the major role in educating the society on the
effect of domestic violence and promoting human dignity
Likewise the government has archived at great rate to upgrade women’s dignity by empowering
women’s in the society by alleviating discrimination, segregation, alienations and all forms of
deeds which lowers women’s esteem. Likewise it has offered education to raise people’s
awareness on the issues of women’s dignity.
Conclusion and suggestion
Women’s should fight for their right by themselves via self determination and struggle to
eliminate domestic violence and maintain the women’s dignity. Also there has to be strong
government support along side with the NGO’s to support the women’s to overcome their social
economic problems. If the above will be achieved, the women’s will have the bright future with
great support to children’s and the future generation in Tanzania.
I suggest that the government has to amend the laws which undermine women’s dignity like
some of the provisions of marriage act CAP 29 R.E 2002 like that allowing a child of 15 years to
be marriage and polygamy. Also the customary laws like that allowing inheritance of spouses
has to be abolished t o be alongside statutory laws in Tanzania.