Tanzania this week hosted the International Conference on Gender and Judiciary in Africa with a call by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan for the courts to play a more critical role in fighting gender-based violence. The courts could do this by becoming more “friendly, readily accessible and more gender conscious”, the VP noted.

The importance of her call cannot be overemphasised considering the fact that gender violence still rears its ugly head in many Tanzanian homes, despite efforts to put an end to it over the years. For instance, recent surveys suggest that more than 40 per cent of married women suffer violence at the hands of their partners.

While the establishment of a special desk at police stations to address the problem was hailed as a great milestone, the challenges are still glaring.

Just recently, the Police Force admitted that there is still a big cultural problem hindering progress towards achieving set targets. Various pieces of legislation have also helped over the past few years, but there is much more to be done.

One way to deal with this problem is, as the VP suggested, to ensure victims have access to legal help, and, of course, to ensure that perpetrators face the full force of the law. This is where the courts come in.