Tanzania cops cannot stand prostitutes, gay people, bisexuals and drug users. The two sides are like cat and mouse, and do not like each other.
Human Rigths Watch (HRW) has this week released a shocking report depicting regular cases of physical abuse, insults, rape, illegal detention and harassment of prostitutes, gays and lesbians and junkies by cops in this East African nation.
The 98-page report, “Treat Us Like Human Beings”, was relased in collaboration with the Wake Up and Step Forward Coalition (WASO).
In the report the two organisations said Tanzanians who are most at risk of HIV face widespread police abuse and often can’t get help when they are victims of crime.
On paper, the country vowed to fight the stigma for at-risk groups, but that commitment is now meaningless, the New York-based rights organisation said.
The government’s HIV policy can’t succeed if police are driving away the very people the public health programs most need to reach, abuse and arrest them, Neela Ghoshal, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher said from the capital Dar es Salaam.
The report also uncovered dozens of cases in which health workers turned away sex workers, LGBTI people, and drug users from health facilities without offering services, or publicly humiliated them.
HRW and WASO urged the Tanzanian government to do whatever it takes HIV/AIDS to reduce discrimination against these marginalised groups.
The Tanzanian case could only be the tip of the iceberg in an continent infested with discrimination against such groups.
The abuse against gay people, drug users and prostitutes has become so grave that some civil society groups are openly calling for the legalisation of prostitution and homosexuality, and gay marriages.
HRW and WASO urge the Tanzanian government to
• Publicly condemn police violence against sex workers, people who use drugs and LGBTI people.
• Prevent health sector discrimination against marginalised groups.
• Ensure that legislation relating to sex workers, people who use drugs and LGBTI people conforms to international human rights standards.
See the report here: “Treat Us Like Human Beings”
Photo courtesy of HRW.org