Albert Malusa in an Inspector at the Commanding Station in Kamanga. He recently joined the Station’s Violence Against Women (VAW) desk, as he has been trained to handle cases with issues of violence and abuse. Cedar Tanzania are excited to see that Inspector Malusa has joined Kamanga Police Station as this will greatly support our project SASA!, which aims to highlight issues of violence against women and girls in the community. Having the Inspector at the Police Station will ensure that there is a trained officer that will be able to sensitively handle cases of gender based violence.
We asked Inspector Malusa a few questions about his new post.
How did you first learn about SASA!?
“SASA! is a project being run by Cedar Foundation which explains the procedures to follow when coming across sexual violence. The SASA! project shows how to deal with issues of sexual violence within the community.
It wasn’t the first time for me to hear about issues of Violence Against Women and Gender Based Violence. I have previously heard about VAW and GBV from the NGO Kivulini, when they were educating people on issues around violence in the community.”
In your opinion, what needs to be done to prevent violence against women in your ward?
“Firstly people need to be educated on how to go against traditions and cultures that contribute towards violence against women and children and secondly the government should take serious action against those who display violent behaviour in the community.”
What should a woman expect if she comes to report an incident to you at the police station? e.g what process will she go through when she reports her incident?
“A woman is supposed to get help from the police station for violence that she has experienced. The process that she will go through when reporting the incident is to approach the desk designated to gender issues which will have a police officer who has been educated on how to process sexual violence and disputes between married couples.
On arrival she needs to go to an office known as the ‘Charge Room Office’ where she can make her complaint. In this office she will meet officers to whom she will briefly explain her complaint. After listening to her complaint, those officers will guide her to a specific office which has been created designated to interview people who have been sexually abused or assaulted. This is because the ‘Charge Room Office’ is very public and issues with regards to sexual violence are private hence the police have created a designated area whereby victims may go and explain incidents freely without fear. The officers in that office have also been educated on how to deal with situations linked to sexual violence. These officers will listen and advice the person and will open a case file.
If the woman is physically injured she will be given a form called P3 which will allow her to go to a health centre to get medical attention for her wounds. This same form is given to women who have been raped. The doctor will fill in the form and it will then be returned to the police station and it will be filed in the case opened for the woman.
After a woman files a complaint, she is interviewed and encouraged to identify the person who abused her. The police then arrests the person and keeps them under custody where they can interview them and keep them in a prison cell whilst they continue with the other procedures necessary and continue to find more information on the case. Once all the necessary information is gathered, the case is then taken to court for a hearing.
Cases of rape and sexual abuse have to be taken to court as they are severe crimes and must be handled according to the law.
In my experience, in many cases regarding violence against women, the community lacks the understanding on abusive behaviour because some types of abusive behaviour are a result of the traditions in Tanzanian culture. For example some people in Tanzanian society believe that a man can beat his wife so that she knows that he is the one in charge and this is seen as something normal. Due to these cultural beliefs, when a woman reports her husband for beating her, the community isolates her, as in their view she is not supposed to report such matters as they are a normal part of life and that the correct thing for her to do is to tolerate her husband’s behaviour. A woman who reports abuse lacks support from people and because of this gradually she stops going to the court for hearings and even witnesses of the abuse do not show up during hearings or give their statements thus the only evidence in the end comes from the doctor’s report. A doctor’s report is very useful in cases such as rape and physical abuse.
In my experience, if the woman whom the man abused is not linked to him in any way for example she is not his wife or child etc, then the action taken against him becomes a lesson for the society and people in the community become scared. However, for those women who are linked to the man, if action is taken against the man, then even after he is freed he views the woman as not worthy of him as she reported him.
Sexual violence varies in terms of how long a person can be imprisoned, for example some who rape can be imprisoned for up to 30 years. In other cases such as injuring a person, the duration of imprisonment will depend on how badly the victim has been injured. Usually people who are released from prison for charges related to violence, are seen to have a great change in them and are used as an example to others in the community to stop abusive behaviour.”
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