Tanzania’s Inheritance Law Still Undermines Women’s Rights – HRW

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Human Rights Watch has recently urged the government to ‘immediately’ amend provisions of the inheritance law, saying it violates the rights of women.

Under the existing laws, women are often left with nothing when their husbands die and coerced to leave their land, which is against international agreements on women’s rights.

In letters to Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu, Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Mahiga, Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Harrison Mwakyembe and Attorney General George Masaju, the organisation exhorted the government to comply with the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The committee challenged the government to review the laws and give principle compensation to two women who were forced from their land when their husbands died.

But a year later, the law frame remains the same and the two women are yet to receive compensation, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Tanzania has not adequately complied with the CEDAW committee’s decision. We understand that E.S. and S.C. (the two widows) have not received financial compensation or reparations from the courts, parliament or the executive,” the international non-governmental organisation states.

It has asked the government to repay the widows and implement reforms that will guarantee equality for both women and men in questions of land and inheritance.

When contacted for comment on the matter, Dr Mahiga acknowledged that women’s inheritance rights was an important issue, and promised that the government would amend the legislation around it.

“It is something that needs to be pushed and we have to fast-track it,” Dr Mahiga said.

He also stated that “The government is very aware of it and anxious to work on it. It is something that requires an extensive legislation in parliament.”


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