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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details

Tanzania

  • Achiula v. Republic, Tanzania, Court of Appeal, 2012.
    The appellant’s conviction of rape and subsequent sentence of thirty years imprisonment was upheld by the High Court. He had allegedly raped an underage girl on several occasions, manipulating her with monetary bribes and threats. The appellant appealed this decision, claiming that the voire dire examination of the underage victim had been insufficient to ensure that she understood the meaning and duty to tell the truth, and that her evidence was thus not credible. He also argued that because there was no proof to corroborate the age of the victim, the charge of rape was not established. The Court dismissed the appeal, finding that the victim had demonstrated sufficient intelligence and understanding to justify the reception of her evidence. The Court also dismissed the appellant’s citation of the lack of proof of the victim’s age, pointing out that the victim’s age had been accepted as a matter of course during the trial. Finally, the Court decided that there was sufficient evidence of penetration, pointing out that “True evidence of rape has to come from the victim, if an adult, that there was no penetration and no consent, and in case of any other woman where consent is irrelevant that there was penetration”.
  • Kalulu v. Mahirima, Tanzania, High Court, 2011.
    The father of the deceased objected to the appointment of his son’s wife as an administratrix of the will. He claimed that there was no evidence that a customary marriage had taken place between his son and the respondent or that the couple had not been divorced in the interim. He also contended that Chagga customary law on succession and inheritance barred women from administering wills. The Court dismissed his appeal. It noted even if there had not been a customary marriage between the deceased and the respondent, the duration and nature of their relationship satisfied the requirements for a presumed marriage. Furthermore, the Court cited Article 12 and 13 of the Constitution and Article 1 of CEDAW to emphasize its commitment to ending gender-based discrimination. It decided that following Chagga customary law would be discriminatory and that the deceased wife would remain as an administratrix of the will.
  • Katua v. Republic, Tanzania, Court of Appeal, 2011.
    The appellant had his acquittal for want of sufficient evidence overturned by the High Court. He had allegedly raped an underage girl who had been taken to him for medical treatment. The appellant challenged this decision, arguing that the prosecution had not disclosed lack of consent and prevented him from properly defending himself. He also challenged the veracity of the victim’s evidence and cited her history of mental illness and confusion. The Court upheld the conviction. It dismissed the first complaint, noting that under section 130 (2) (e) of the Penal Code, lack of consent was understood to be inherent in a charge of rape of a minor. The Court also found that the victim was clear and coherent in her testimony, and that her account was detailed and consistent with the truth. The Court accordingly ruled that she was a credible witness and dismissed the appeal.
  • Marwa v. Republic, Tanzania, Court of Appeal, 2008.
    A secondary school teacher, convicted of raping a student and sentenced to thirty years imprisonment, appealed for the second time on the grounds that he had been framed. The Court found no justification for doubting the evidence of the witness, especially as the results from the medical examination corroborated her testimony. The Court also noted that his claim of being framed was insupportable, as there was no justification for the other witnesses to lie against him. Finally, the Court pointed out that the lack of an order for compensation offended the mandatory provisions of Section 13(1) of the Penal Code. The appeal was dismissed and the teacher ordered to pay shs. 500 000 in compensation to the student.
  • Republic v. Elvan S/O Cyprian Luvindu, Tanzania, High Court, 2005.
    The accused physically assaulted the woman with whom he was living. The two were lovers, and he drunkenly hit and kicked her to death. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was in remand for four years, served part of his sentence, and had dependents. He asked for leniency on these grounds. The Court emphasized that this offence was committed “in the course of domestic violence” and made note of the Republic’s commitment to CEDAW and the eradication of violence against women. The accused was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.
  • Mtawa v. Risasi, Tanzania, High Court, 2001.
    The appellant had lived with the deceased as husband and wife for nine years and given birth to two of his children. At his death, she asked that the estate not be distributed in accordance with Islamic law, which would have prevented her from receiving a share of the estate. The brother of the deceased challenged this, contending that she was a concubine who had no right to a share of the estate she had contributed nothing to amassing. The trial court registered a decision in favor of the appellant. It found that her relationship was the deceased fell under the presumption of marriage, and accordingly awarded her the house until either her death or marriage to another man. The brother appealed this decision and the District Court reversed the ruling of the trial court. The High Court found that the appellant and the deceased had achieved the status of a customary marriage. It also ruled that the deceased’s actions showed that he did not profess the Islamic faith and that Islamic law should thus not apply. It registered a decision that the appellant, through her contribution to the welfare of the household and family, was entitled to a share of the estate. The appellant received a half share of the house, while the other half was awarded to her children.
  • Mtefu v. Mtefu, Tanzania, High Court, 1995.
    The appellant appealed the order of a lower court that he pay maintenance Tshs. 10 000 per month to his former wife. He based his appeal on the claims that his adultery was unfairly held responsible for the dissolution of the marriage and that his income could not sustain the maintenance payments dictated by the lower court. He also argued that his former wife had earned no income during the course of the marriage and thus should not be entitled to a share of the matrimonial assets. The Court dismissed the appeal. It pointed out that his wife had demonstrably objected to his adultery with her niece, noting that this was “sufficient cruelty to break the marriage”. It also noted that theirs had been a Christian marriage, which emphasized fidelity. In addition, the Court also cited the case of Bi Hawa Mohamed, which recognized “housekeeping as services requiring compensation” and the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977, which barred discrimination, to justify the division of matrimonial assets.
  • Ephrahim v. Pastory and Kaizingele, Tanzania, High Court, 1990.
    The respondent, Ms. Pastory, inherited clan land from her father by a valid will and sold the land to a man who was not a member of her clan.  The next day, the appellant, Mr. Ephrahim, filed suit seeking a declaration that the sale of land by Ms. Pastory was void under the customary law that a woman has no power to sell clan land. The Court held that the customary law regarding women's property rights discriminated on the ground of sex in violation of CEDAW, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the ICCPR as well as the Tanzania Constitution.
  • Mohamed v. Seifu, Tanzania, Court of Appeal, 1983.
    The appellant appealed the ruling by the Primary and High Courts that she was not entitled to any share of the matrimonial assets amassed by her former husband during their marriage. She contended that her domestic services counted as a contribution to the acquisition of matrimonial assets. The Court noted the two schools of thought over whether household work could count as part of the joint effort in the acquisition of funds. It acknowledged the difficulties facing divorced women, but also emphasized that the role of the Court was not to forward public interests but to expound on law without judgment. The Court decided that under the Mischief Rule, the Law of Marriage Act, 1971 was intended to stop “the exploitation and oppression of married women by their husbands”. Thus, it ruled that domestic work could count as contributions to the acquisition of matrimonial assets. However, the Court noted that the appellant had squandered the money given to her by her husband to set up a family business. The Court registered a decision that this sum of money had been significant enough to constitute her share of the matrimonial assets. Because she had squandered that sum of money, she was no longer entitled to any share in the remaining matrimonial assets. The appeal was dismissed.