Is sexual violence becoming more prevalent in Tanzania?

Is Tanzania witnessing an increase in sexual violence incidents?

Tanzania’s Director of Criminal Investigation Robert Boaz has called on community members to help the police to tackle incidents of rape, noting that incidents of sexual violence had increased from 2016 to 2017 in the country.

These statistics go against the overall trend in Tanzanian crime statistics, where incident reports have gone down. A total of 68,204 criminal offences were reported between January and November 2016, compared to 61,794 cases reported in 2017, while rape cases increased from 6,985 to 7,460 over the same period.

Therefore the question is, has the prevalence of sexual violence in Tanzania gone up since 2016?

PesaCheck has researched this issue and find the claim by Robert Boaz that the prevalence of sexual violence in Tanzania has gone up to be MOSTLY TRUE for the following reasons:

The Crime and Traffic Incidents Statistics Report for 2016 published by the Tanzanian National Bureau of Statistics shows that rape cases stood at 7 645, (7,180 for mainland Tanzania and 465 for Zanzibar).

According to a 2010 study on Rape against women in Tanzania, between 10 and 20% of women over the age of 12 have experienced rape. Having a sexual partner increases the risk of sexual violence, with 23% — 31% of Tanzanian women aged 15–49 who have ever had a partner reporting that they have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime.

Tanzania is among the countries with the highest prevalence of sexual violence by non-partners after the age of 15 years and forced initiation among adolescents: a third (29%) of adolescents report having forced sexual initiation.

Data shows that reports of sexual violence had shown a downward trend between 2011 and 2014, with about 6,028 reports in 2014 compared to 6,493 in 2010. However, there has been a gradual increase over the last three years, with 7,645 reports recorded in 2017.

Therefore Boaz’s statement that reports of sexual abuse are on the rise in Tanzania are MOSTLY TRUE.

While he did not go into detail about what could be driving the number of sexual violence incidents to increase, it could be the case that the stigma against reporting incidents of sexual violence is on the decline, meaning that victims are more able to report and speak out about rape incidents that they have experienced.

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This report was written by PesaCheck Fellow Belinda Japhet, a Communications Consultant, Journalist and Online Editor based in Tanzania, and edited by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi. The infographics are by Eunice Magwambo, a Kenyan graphic designer, visual artist and digital content producer.

PesaCheck, co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arenstein, is East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of so-called ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. PesaCheck To find out more about the project, visit

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PesaCheck is a joint initiative of Code for Africa, through its local Code for Tanzania chapter, and the Data Zetu initiative to give Tanzanian citizens actionable data, in partnership with a coalition of local media organisations, with additional support from the International Center for Journalists(ICFJ).

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