With the charity’s extended remit to support vulnerable young girls, alongside the boys in their care, the welfare of these children is paramount. As we have highlighted before, there is a persistent perception in Tanzania that women and children hold few rights, and thus can be commoditized. They are often forced into marriages as they reach puberty, are exploited for child labor, and suffer violence in all its forms.
With poverty comes exploitation. When approximately 28.2% of the population live below the poverty line (less than $18 a month), and 50.1% of the population under 17 years of age (in 2012), Tanzania is facing a crisis whereby poverty stricken women and children, particularly vulnerable young girls, face a life with the threat of violence, and servitude never far away.
USAID’s report into gender based violence highlights the consequences of Tanzania’s precarious situation:
“Girls from rural areas are trafficked to urban centers and the island of Zanzibar for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Some domestic workers fleeing abusive employers fall prey to forced prostitution. While statistics on trafficking are difficult to obtain because of the underground nature of the phenomenon, existing evidence indicates that it is a significant problem in Tanzania. For example, in 2007, the Ministry of Labor withdrew nearly 1,100 victims from forced child labor situations (U.S. State Department, 2008).”
The report goes on to point out that despite Tanzania’s Sexual Offenses Special Provisions Act (SOSPA) criminalizing various forms of GBV, including rape, sexual assault and harassment, female genital cutting, and sex trafficking, this act is not fit for purpose. For a rape conviction, penetration must be proven- nearly impossible without forensic evidence, and marital rape is excluded entirely, unless the parties are separated. Then, if a rape conviction is handed down, the accused can face 30 years imprisonment: A punishment “that survivors may consider too extreme in rape cases wherein typically, the perpetrator is the survivor’s relative”.
Subsequently the Tanzanian government has reassessed the situation, recognizing that “violence in childhood has an impact on a person’s health and well-being well into adulthood, that violence is cyclical and that addressing violence in childhood will also reduce violence against women, that violence is interpersonal as well as inter-generational, and impacts individual, family, and community health and well-being.” In response they have put into action the NPA_VAWC to tackle the many contributing factors that exacerbate and perpetuate these behaviors. The challenge is immense.
To prevent these horrendous abuses, and remove the environment in which they thrive, it will take more than legislation and long jail terms for the very few who are convicted. The vicious poverty cycle must be broken. The Tanzanian youth who find themselves trapped in poverty must be given the means to escape the fate of their parents, through a full education, emotional and social support, and the opportunity to succeed.
With ten years of experience in providing a safe place to live, quality education, care and support to vulnerable young boys, the House of Blue Hope charity is now looking to extend its reach, giving young girls the same care, support, and opportunities they deserve.
Help us to give vulnerable children in Tanzania a life free from poverty, violence, and exploitation by giving what you can. Every dollar raised will go directly to protecting and supporting the vulnerable kids that the House of Blue Hope charity rescues from perilous situations.