Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, with many of its people living below the World Bank poverty line.
Violence against women is widespread and women and girl refugees are particularly vulnerable. But violence is underreported because many are unaware of their rights and where to get help or seek justice.
Women and girls lack access to education, and don’t have opportunities to get jobs, own property, and inherit or use land. Female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage are also widespread.
- A third of women in Tanzania have experienced physical violence from a partner while just under a quarter have experienced sexual violence (UN Women 2011-12).
- Over a six-month period, research shows there were 295 incidents of rape and other forms of violence against refugee women and girls in the Nyarugusu refugee camp (source: UNHCR 2010).
- Laws to protect women’s rights are limited and discriminatory. For example, the legal age of marriage is 15 for girls and 18 for boys.(source: CEDAW 2008)
- Over half of women think that a husband is justified in beating his wife under certain circumstances (source: UNICEF 2013).
Supporting refugee women’s rights
Tanzania’s 1998 Refugee Act requires refugees to live in camps, restricting their movement and preventing access to land and jobs. These restrictions have contributed to very high levels of violence against women and girls in the camps. Holistic support is needed to ensure women refugees don’t fall through the gaps and their rights are protected and promoted.
That’s why we work with the Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC) in the Nyarugusu camp, where there are currently over 10,000 refugees, most who have fled conflict and politically motivated violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi and of which more than two-thirds are women and children. –
With our support, the organisation works in the camp on:
- Rebuilding the lives of women and girl survivors of violence through legal aid and counselling
- Encouraging community leaders and the wider community to act to end harmful traditional practices including early and forced marriage
- Training refugees, law enforcers and service providers on handling cases of violence against women, and relevant legislation so women get the best support.
“It is empowering to be trained in the law, to know you – a refugee – have rights, and to be able to assist a fellow refugee to seek justice in such a disempowering setting as a refugee camp.”Refugee paralegal
“When the civil war broke out in my homeland of Burundi, my whole family was killed in front of my eyes. I managed to escape murder but I was raped on my way into exile. The WLAC paralegals have been a great help. Life is hard in the camp because we aren’t treated like individuals but WLAC has given me a great deal of support. They listen to individual cases like mine.” Daphrose
Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC)
WLAC uses innovative approaches like mobile legal aid centres and paralegal training programmes, to reach women in isolated rural communities ...
Our impact in Tanzania
Since we started working with WLAC in Tanzania, together we have:
- Helped over 3,000 refugee women access justice through legal aid and support
- Trained 78 refugee paralegals on national and international laws, including refugees’ and women’s human rights
- Trained 165 law enforcers and Ministry of Home Affairs officers and 139 camp leaders about the human rights of refugee women and girls and their legal rights under Tanzanian law
- Informed 40,000 refugees about violence against women and girls and services available to them by running awareness campaigns.
Find out more about our impact
Help us do more
£30 can buy 100 posters to advertise WLAC services to new refugees so more get the help they need.
£43 can provide practical training for a paralegal so more women get the help they need to seek justice.
£139 can train a law enforcement officer on how to handle refugee rights and violence against women cases.