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Zanzibar increase efforts to save women and children from abuse

June 01, 2015 A study by a women’s rights advocacy group, the Tanzania Media Women’s Association in 2014 rated Zanzibar, the beautiful country off East Africa’s coast, amongst one of the highest in cases of abuse and violence against women.

The study also showed that most of the men committing sex crimes often got away with it because of lack of evidence and also because victims were afraid of the stigma and shame attached to rape. There was also the issue of police being ill equipped to handle such cases at the time. All that may soon be in the past though as the rising cases have led to the country establishing gender and children desks in police stations in the country, to curb the problem, beginning with two major islands in the archipelago,.

The gender desks are special units in each police station which have a reception, interview and counseling room, rest area and an office where victims can report cases of physical and sexual abuse to trained police. The developments have already begun to attract some victims.

Rahma Khamis, an official in the directorate of women and children in Zanzibar, said the gender desks were part of a government commitment to protect women and children

She said “Having a police gender and children desk is an achievement, but we all need to stand against the problem. Are we happy to see our children abused? Are we ready to see our family members traumatized? Certainly not. We need to protect women and children.”

The gender desk project has received three million Euros from the European Union, and is targeted at improving women and children rights by providing training and necessary support to the police force.

There is now the growing confidence that more women will be braver to come up and report cases of abuse to women police since they have been trained to specially handle such cases.

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