by Amleset Tewodros
Over the years, an increasing number of older people, particularly older women, have been persecuted for alleged witchcraft practices in Tanzania.
According to the Legal and Human Right Centre in the country, 765 people, 505 of which were women, were killed due to alleged witchcraft accusations in 2013 alone.
(c) Jeff Williams/HelpAge International 2011
Why are older women targeted?
Deep rooted cultural practices, harmful traditions that legitimise gender-based violence and negative perceptions about ageing are among the causes of acts perpetrated against older women.
Promoting and protecting older women's rights
HelpAge International has launched a two-year project with funding from the European Union (EU) that aims at promoting and protecting older women's rights in Tanzania. This project will be implemented in Magu district, Mwanza Region by HelpAge International in partnership with Magu Poverty Eradication Rehabilitation Center (MAPERECE).
Working at community and national level
The project will work at the community level to improve awareness on older people's, and particularly older women's, rights.
It will mobilise and train community volunteer paralegals, older women spokespersons and support older people's associations who will work with the local government authorities, leaders, influential individuals and the law enforcement bodies to provide legal advice, counselling and referral while ensuring victims access justice.
Nationally, the project will work with the relevant central government authorities and law makers for better application of policies and laws that will protect and uphold the rights of older men and women to life.
The project will work with the media to help raise awareness about older women's rights, aiming to ensure these are integrated into the wider gender and human rights debate.
Shared learning experiences
It is expected that the project will provide lessons that will be used to scale up and replicate the approaches in various parts of the country.
The EU made this fund available through its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) to tackle gender based violence that affects women of all ages. The EU provides about EUR 300,000 to protect older women from witchcraft related killings and violence.