Following increasing public indignation about sexual offences, Parliament passed unanimously on April 23 a new very strong ‘Sexual Offences (Special Provisions) Act 1998’ under which the penalty for rape has been increased to from 30 years to life. Proceedings are to be held in camera to give victims confidence when presenting evidence.

Extracts from the sometimes heated debate in parliament in April in which very many MP’s participated:

Hamad Ali Musa (CUF) – “The death penalty for rape (as originally proposed) is too harsh. God did not send us to kill each other but sent us to multiply” he said. Fatma Said Ali, MP for Mlandege in Zanzibar, suggested (to the amused MP’s) that when older women had sex with young boys this was not part of rape but was to train the boys in sexual matters. But Halima Kimbau MP (CCM) said that older women were supposed to be moulding the younger generation into responsible parenthood, not acting as sexual partners. Fatma Ali said that wearing short dresses or applying make-up was not an excuse for men to rape women. Mrs Kimbau also thought it was unreasonable to put rapists behind bars for life and then expect them to pay compensation too. The Bill should be changed to save MP’s from looking ridiculous. “Where can you get compensation when you are in jail for life” she asked.

The July/August issue of ‘New African’ warned visitors to Tanzania. ‘Don’t wink at the girls, don’t even blink. Turn away from temptation. Winking is now regarded as a sexual assault. You could serve five years in jail for winking at a woman, or spend a life in gaol if you do it three times … .’ “It is a violation of human rights” moaned Hamad Ali Musa. Other men were quoted as saying that not enough research was done before the Bill was introduced. Others said that winking and chatting up women is endorsed by tribal tradition and customs. Others again pointed out that there was no law against women winking at men.

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