Tanzania: Say no to sextortion

Tanzania: Say no to sextortion

Date: December 20, 2018
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By Bahati Mandago      

Dar es Salaam, 20 December: In 1999, former  Miss Tanzania Hoyce Temu, shocked the nation when she went public and shared her sexual corruption experience in one of her speeches.

In her book “NAYAKUMBUKA YOTE’’ which translates ‘I REMEMBER IT ALL’, Ms Temu  explained how sextortion left her with no choice but to quit her university studies from one of the local universities in Tanzania because she could no longer bear the alleged constant sexual harassment from her lecturer. She had to drop out but later resumed her studies in a different university after securing a opportunity abroad.

According to Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), up to 89 percent of women in the public sector have experienced sextortion while looking for a job, a promotion, or while requesting a service. Nearly nine in every 10 women in the public sector are estimated to have been sexually harassed.

The Tanzania independent Ethics Secretariat who oversees ethics in public leadership, Salome Kaganda  marked a crackdown on sextortion, especially against the act of officials exercise power to sexually exploit someone for a service in his or her authority’.

Sextortion has become a major problem in the East African countries.

Early October 2018, a sextortion scandal concerning one of the lecturers from University of Dodoma, who was allegedly, caught manipulating his student for sexual favours. This left many people puzzled and prompted debates around what sextortion is really about.

In the employment sector, barrier to economic opportunities  that young women and  women often face when trying to get a job, promotion and in quest for service ,  often you will hear: ‘I’ll give you a job but you must have sex with me in return”.

 Among female entrepreneurs, it is common to hear upsetting stories about sextortion. Many say they had to exchange sex with a person of authority for a border permit or in order to go about their businesses.

A majority of female students complain about lecturers demanding sex from them in exchange for good grades.  A university student, Catherine Olomi spoke about sextortion at the University of Dar es Salaam, “Many female students get pressure from tutors to have sex for good grades. You have to be very bold to resist temptation; it involves a lot of risks such as failing exams or seating for supplementary examinations.”

The reality about  sextortion is that women and girls of all ages are affected.  There are perpetrators who exploit children and teens too, often in primary schools and secondary schools. Many perpetrators have abused multiple victims—sometimes hundreds.

Victims experience long-lasting psychological effects. Their reputations are also tainted. Often, victims do not report or do not know where to seek help as existing laws are inadequate to prosecute sextortion; laws need to be amended or reformed to specifically address sextortion.

In Tanzania, sextortion poses a huge barrier to young girls and women in education, economic opportunities, health, peace and security. It undermines global efforts to bring about gender equality and women empowerment.

It contradicts the Tanzania 2017-2022 National Plan of Action on combating violence against Women and Children hence it fuels gender based violence and gender inequality.  International human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Council, have paid increasing attention to the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights and made numerous recommendations to member states with the aim to prevent and suppress corruption.

Depending on the level, sextortion can have devastating impacts on the availability, quality and accessibility of human rights related  services. Moreover, it undermines the functioning and legitimacy of institutions and processes, the rule of law and ultimately the State itself.

Those involved in efforts to investigate, report, prosecute and try sextortion are at heightened risk and require effective protection.

Despite the magnitude of the problem, there is absence of legal solution to ensure justice for victims of sextortion, because legally speaking there is no such word sextortion in the Tanzania constitution.

‘Sextortion’ is a combination of two words; sex and corruption. Just like many other countries,  the  Tanzanian law does not expressly prohibit sextortion though, in many countries it has been confused and prosecuted under many different crimes.

 It is hard to prove the crime, despite being acknowledged as a major problem which poses a huge threat to the safety of young girls and women,  the subject remains  understudied and without adequate data on its prevalence.

 However, globally there are several incidents under various criminal statutes, including breach of trust, bribery, sextortion, corruption, sexual coercion, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, wiretapping, computer hacking and child pornography which have been linked to and  prosecuted  under the name of sextortion.

In Tanzania, there is only one documented case story on sextortion.  One Michael Ngilangwa, a Tanzanian teacher was charged under Section 25 of the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 11 of 2007 for demanding sexual intercourse as a condition for favoring a student.

He was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of  500,000 Tanzanian Shillings or serve a year in prison. The penalty was deemed lenient by Human rights activists in the country.

In America, a federal immigration officer who was caught on tape demanding sex in exchange for a green card pleaded guilty to felony charges of receiving a bribe and received a penalty for official misconduct. In another incident,  a former immigration adjudicator in Toronto, Canada promised to approve the refugee claim of a South Korean woman in exchange for sex. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

There have been efforts to advocate against sextortion, since early 2009. The Institute for Responsible online and cell phone Communication (iroc2.org) began warning the public about the trend of “Sextortion.”

In 2009, the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), formed a partnership with the Association of Women Judges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Philippine Women Judges Association, and the Tanzania Women Judges Association. With funding from the Government of the Netherlands, these organizations launched a three-year program on “Stopping the Abuse of Power through Sexual Exploitation: Naming, Shaming, and Ending.  This was done in an attempt to provide civic and human rights education on matters sextortion,in the end systematically and effectively curbing the problem.

Bahati Mandago is a freelancer from Tanzania. This article is part of the Gender Links 16 Days News Service #VoiceandChoice campaign.

Picture source: Cyber Professional ethics

One thought on “Tanzania: Say no to sextortion”

The article is good and relevant as per the time. It is so common to many working places as many people especially girls are suffered. Especially, those who are not well confident with their education, skills and knowledge.
So we encourage girls to be more confident in order to overcome all these hustles.

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