UN rights experts urge Tanzania to prevent discrimination against women News
UN rights experts urge Tanzania to prevent discrimination against women

[JURIST] The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women [official website] on Wednesday urged Tanzania [press release] to enforce its international obligations to prevent discrimination against women. The call comes after two women brought suit arguing that customary laws enforced in their communities contravened Tanzania’s constitution [text, PDF] and its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) [official website], which it ratified in 1985. Although the High Court of Tanzania [official website] in 2006 agreed with the women that the customary law was discriminatory, because customary law is enforced in 30 districts in Tanzania, to rule in their favor would “open a Pandora’s box” to challenge the customs of more than 120 tribes. The committee concluded by reminding Tanzania that its obligations under CEDAW supersede inconsistent and discriminatory provisions of tribal law. The committee has granted Tanzania six months to respond to its findings.

In spite of international efforts to educate communities [JURIST op-ed] and protect women’s rights to be free from discrimination and violence, these efforts have been met with resistance and noncompliance. In February the UN reported that girls in at least 70 countries have been attacked for seeking education [JURIST report]. In January Amnesty International reported that the Egyptian government is failing to protect women’s rights [JURIST report] and end violence against women, stating that women and girls face violence in all aspects of life, including in public and at home. In December a Saudi Arabian court ordered the criminal cases against two women for driving, which is customarily banned in Saudi Arabia, be held over to a special tribunal for terrorism [JURIST report]. Also in December UN special Rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo called for the international community to adopt legally binding agreements [JURIST report] at the national level in order to fight violence against women in member states and hold violators accountable.