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Exploring Sukuma Traditions that Protected Women Against Intimate Partner Violence: A Case Study of Buswelu Village in Mwanza region, Tanzania

This research entitled “Exploring Sukuma traditions that protected women against domestic violence”, explores the possibility of using indigenous knowledge as a strategy of preventing the prevalence of domestic violence against women in Tanzania. The study is based on the views of 90 respondents (31 questionnaire respondents, 14 interview respondents and 45 focus group discussion participants) of Sukuma tribe of whom 55 (61%) are elders aged 50+ and 35 (39%) young people between the ages of 15-49.

The rational for carrying out this study derives from an interest to collect credible information on the positive traditional cultures that existed in the past [ikale] which protected women against domestic violence in order to respond to limited or no information on these indigenous traditions which community activists against domestic violence will be able to draw on to support the idea that women should be treated with respect and not subjected to violence.

A literature review provides an exploration of existing academic research internationally and locally on the prevalence of domestic violence against women; its effects on women and children, and to development of the society. Positive traditional cultures that existed in some tribes around Africa and Tanzania in particular that protected women against abuse were explored. Concepts such as domestic violence and culture are defined before addressing more complex issues of domestic violence against women, traditional cultures and Sukuma tribe. The impact of colonization that led to abandonment of traditional cultures to detriment of exposing women to abuse has been highlighted. Finally, the Sukuma past [ikale] traditional cultures as well community sanctions that deterred domestic violence is explored.

The research used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in order to reinforce each other. The qualitative methodology allowed the research to collect direct quotes (for example proverbs, taboos, myths, songs) and their experience around domestic violence. The quantitative methodology produced findings on number and percentage of participants’ views. Triangulation was used to double check the relevance of data collected.

The findings show that in the past the Sukuma tribe used rituals, taboos, songs and proverbs to protect women from abuse. The group of women who were mostly protected were pregnant women. However, the Sukuma traditional cultures have not been able to withstand the pressure of the inflow of foreign cultures over the past few decades. As a result traditional cultures are dying out, exposing women to the serious consequences of domestic violence. Therefore in this study, I make my case by demonstrating that traditional cultures could protect women against domestic violence. From these observations this study advocates for promotion of past [ikale] positive traditional cultures in protecting women against abuse. These traditions are learned and are less costly interventions. The government of Tanzania, international development partners, international researchers and women activists have a role in this endeavour to ensure that these traditional cultures are learned and passed on from one generation to another.
Maimuna Ahmad Kanyamala (2010)

Permanent link to this article: http://kimmagedsc.ie/dissertation/sukuma-traditions-that-protected-women-against-violence/