Zanzibar police beef up fight against sexual, physical abuse of women
By Kizito Makoye
ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - - Natasha Ali was devastated when she realized the man accused of snatching her 14-year-old daughter off a street in Zanzibar and raping her had been freed for lack of evidence.
Her daughter was grabbed as she strolled through an area in Mkunazini in the old part of Zanzibar in May last year, dragged to an unoccupied ruin and raped.
Police arrested a man who was transferred to a remand prison while police prepared a case against him but he was later released without charge due to a lack of evidence, an outcome too often the case, according to women's rights activists.
"I knew in the end justice would not be done for my daughter who has suffered untold psychological torture," Ali, 42, who works in seaweed harvesting, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in Zanzibar.
In Tanzania almost half of women under age 50 say they have been physically or sexually assaulted and government figures suggest one in three girls under 18 experience sexual violence and 70 percent physical violence but few go to the police.
Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of East Africa, has one of the highest rates of violence against women in Tanzania, according to women's rights advocacy group, the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA).
But a TAMWA study in 2014 found men committing sex crimes often walked free through lack of evidence and because victims refused to testify to avoid the shame and stigma attached to rape and police ill-equipped to deal with such cases.