Inherit Your Rights is holding another Legal Aid Clinic on October 3rd and 4th.
All interested persons should contact Baraka or Fariji on +255 685 260
The subjects being discussed are:
Domestic Violence - What the law says and how to stay safe.
Child Rights - What the law says and alternative forms of discipline
Wills and Property Laws.
Dear Friends of Inherit Your Rights,
Please find attached our annual newsletter for 2016, which includes some photos from our year.
We share this with you as partners, friends, and supporters of our organisation - thank you for your continued support.
Join us in celebrating five years since the inception of Inherit Your Rights!!
We are grateful for the changes we've seen, the people we've met along the way and the inspiring women we work with.
IYR has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving, that takes place December 2, the day after Cyber Monday! We are excited to be a part of this UN and 92nd Street Y initiative that includes over a hundred other nonprofit partners.
Help Good Go Viral. Share the news with your friends and family.
Help Fund Tanzania's future human rights advocates and support IYR's work. Support the Fund the Future fundraising campaign.
IYR launched the Fund the Future campaign today to support our legal fellows and education work. The campaign will continue through 31 December 2014. We're already more than halfway to our goal of $30,000! So far, donors have pledged $20,000. The campaign is off to a great start! Donations to the Fund the Future Campaign will enable IYR to pay for tuition, books, school supplies and living expenses for the fellows as well as training materials for its human rights trainings. Check the News and Get Involved pages regularly for updates on the campaign!
On June 25, 2014 four Inherit Your Rights volunteers and Mackrine Shao-Rumanyika, executive director of HIMS (Health Integrated Multisectoral Services), visited a Maasai community in the Kisongo area. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the community’s circumcision practices, particularly female genital mutilation. The group met with ten Maasai men, who vouched to stop circumcision activities, and seven Maasai women: three traditional circumcisers who have surrendered their knives, three traditional birth attendants (who often double as circumcisers), and one nurse in the local dispensary. There were two discussion sessions; the first with only Maasai men and the second with only Maasai women.
In both sessions we discussed the differences between male and female circumcision and the reasons for which such practices still exist in the community. Male circumcision, they explained, is a way to prove strength, bravery, and masculinity within the culture. The procedure is carried out with no anesthesia and the men are expected to endure the pain, not flinch, and show no sign of weakness. Uncircumcised men are not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse. As a result, boys often request to have circumcision because it proves their manhood and allows them to have sex in the community.
In contrast, female circumcision (otherwise known as female genital mutilation or FGM) exists due to the stigma embedded in Maasai culture. FGM is a right of passage and a sign of maturity to the Maasai. Without it, females are considered children and are not accepted in the community. Furthermore, un-mutilated women carry a curse according to the Maasai. Men do not want to marry an un-mutilated girl because she will bring bad-luck to the family.
Sex is more enjoyable to both men and women if the woman is un-mutilated. FGM removes the clitoris and labia, parts of the female genital area that secrete fluids. Without such fluids, intercourse is painful to both men and women. One may think that this would be a reason to stop the harmful practice. However, female pleasure during sex is perceived as bad luck. In Maasai culture, women are seen as objects and are therefore undeserving of pleasure during intercourse.
The Maasai men and women who we met with are aware of this discriminating and harmful stigma within their society. They agree that male and female circumcision practices in their community must change. However, such changes will take a long time because they are so embedded in Maasai tradition and culture. We must all do out part to increasing education and spread awareness of such practices in order to minimize gender-discrimination and human rights abuses.
On Saturday, June 21, 2014 four volunteers and one legal fellow from Inherit Your Rights gave a training session on children’s rights at Arusha Modern School. Thanks to the organization and help of Cosmas Memy, deputy head of school, and Gwyneth Hesser, country director, Inherit Your Rights gave an hour-long training session to 50 students about children’s rights in Tanzania, the current laws in place to enforce them, and local NGOs that are fighting for the respect of such rights.
The students at the training session ranged from ages 6-21. While some of the students at Arusha Modern School previously lived in large cities in Tanzania and have a good level of education, others are less privileged; some come from orphanages and only manage to attend the school through sponsorship.
The training took place in one of the classrooms at the school. The classroom had muted-blue colored walls and several chairs and desks. We began the training by asking the children what rights they knew they were entitled to. We were surprised to see that the students, both young and old, were quite aware of the different types of rights they had. Many of the younger 6-7 year-old students were eager to participate and responded with answers like ‘the right to play with my friends’, ‘the right to express my talent’, ‘the right to food’, ‘the right to safety’ and ‘the right to happiness’, etc. Although these rights are expressed in youthful terms, they indicate a sense of understanding and awareness of fundamental human rights.
Ngeeyan Oloibormunyei, a legal fellow at Inherit Your Rights, continued the training session by discussing the specifics of Tanzanian law and the work done by NGOs to ensure the respect for children’s rights. Another question for the students was what they thought they could do to help advocate for themselves, friends, and family and how they could help society respect and adhere to the existing laws. After a long pause, an older boy stood up and said that education and communication are easy steps that they, as young students, can take. The rest of the students agreed that education and conversation about fundamental human rights is the first and most important step to take in order to eliminate the abuse and disrespect of human rights in Tanzania.
Another interesting part of the training session was when one student mentioned that although female genital mutilation is illegal, many women go forward with it because community members threaten to kill or exile them if they don’t. This led to interesting discussion among the students and volunteers because although there are many laws in place that support gender-equality and children’s rights, the reality is that cultural tradition takes precedence over such laws and therefore they are not enforced. The general consensus at the end was that education is the main way to change the public’s opinion thereby improving social respect for children’s and women’s rights.
Overall, the training session that Inherit Your Rights gave at Arusha Modern School was a great success. The children’s interest and awareness of human rights gives hope for a future in which Tanzanian law and human rights are respected. Special thanks to the following volunteers for their participation and enthusiasm: Mariem Dali, Madellena Conte Thornton, Lasse Ellingsen, and Johnny McInerney.
On Saturday we had the opportunity to give a training session to the Lengajape orphans. Every month in Lengajape the local village executive officer along with the local clan leader and Mrs Fortunee (coordinator of children’s activities) gather all the orphans and disadvantaged children from the surrounding villages in Lengajape church and try to help them escape from their everyday life, by playing with them, providing them with a good lunch and more importantly, by giving counseling and delivering messages of hope.
Seizing the opportunity we partnered with ACE Africa and happily went along to give these children some training aiming at informing them of their rights, and to listen to their worries and issues.
They paid close attention to what Ngeeyan, our legal fellow at Inherit Your Rights had to say about everyone’s legal responsibilities and duties to protect children from abuse and violation of their rights. These rights are; the right to be provided with basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education), the right to an everyday life free from violence, prohibition of night work, female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.
After the training the children started to ask questions. While the youngest were too shy to ask any, the elder children were brave enough to ask about their main worries, these were child marriage and FGM.
An example of one of the questions was the following scenario : what if a girl is in school, but her parents accept a dowry (usually they are given cows) for her to be married ? What are her options then?
In Tanzania, the legal age for marriage is 15 for girls (or 14 with parental & court permission) and school is mandatory until the age of 14. Unfortunately, those laws are rarely enforced hence this common concern. So in this scenario, the student would need to find the courage to stand up for herself, say no to the marriage until she finishes her studies. She also can and should report it to a local government authority who would enforce Tanzanian laws and contact a legal organization such as Inherit Your Rights who could help and support her through the difficult process of fighting family and customary traditions.
To our pleasant surprise, the FGM issue was raised by a boy. This goes to show how the attitudes in Tanzania are changing: now men are growing concerned as well.
He asked about the following scenario: what is a girl has already been circumcised (which means she is no longer considered as a little girl but a woman that is potentially going to get married soon) and she is still in school ? What are her options then?
As we said before, female genital cutting is prohibited in Tanzania, but it is still a well-established tradition that is difficult to fight.
Unfortunately, there is no going back for this girl, the only advice we could give, on top of the previous advice we had given, was that she could become an ambassador for others, letting them know that they can prevent it from happening by reporting it to local authorities and to advocate for this tradition not to be applied anymore, as well as refusing to do this to her own children…
To close the training, the staff and volunteers of Inherit Your Rights each gave a little speech to try and inspire and give hope to those children. The volunteers’ speeches were mostly aiming at convincing them that education is incredibly important and that they should never give up on it. Our Direct Gwen shared her background as a lawyer for abused children in New York to encourage them to come forward if they are ever in such a situation. We figured the best way to encourage them to advocate for change in their society and help them to seize their rights was to share our personal experiences and show them concrete examples, proving that another life is possible.
As you can see, training children on these issues is incredible beneficial, as it is far easier to encourage new ideas in young people than adults and hence the best way to make the situation here improve. So we were absolutely thrilled to have that opportunity at Lengajape, and have made a plan to go back next month to give another training session.
“Now I know my rights and I can stand for myself.”
Powerful words, accompanied by tears, from a Maasai widow in the Monduli community who heard IYR 1st Year Legal Fellow Ngeeyan Oloibormunyei speak on human rights, inheritance and property rights.
Through your kind support, the Inherit Your Rights Tanzanian Legal Fellowship Program is now up and running and allowing our inaugural Legal Fellow, Ngeeyan to advance the important work of IYR throughout rural Tanzania.
IYR expresses its most sincere gratitude to the many generous donors who made the IYR Legal Fellowship possible. We are excited and encouraged by how much the program is enabling us to further our mission to empower, educate and represent widows in Tanzania about their inheritance and property rights, just as we are excited to see Ngeeyan grow and develop as an impassioned and skilled human rights lawyer. Ngeeyan is very much a voice of change in Tanzania.
Thank you very much for your support. For more information about the Legal Fellowship and how you can continue supporting it please visit http://www.inherityourrights.org/our-projects/tanzanian-legal-fellowship.