Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Angela M. Moe

Second Advisor

Dr. Gregory Howard

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Ciccantell

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Dick T. Andzenge


In Tanzania, the involvement of a social movement to addressing domestic violence is fairly recent (early 1990s) (Green, 1999; Hirsch, 2003; Michau, 2002; TAMWA, 1999). As has historically been the case in most African countries, domestic violence has remained largely invisible, being considered a normal custom, practice and tradition (Green, 1999; The New York Times, 2005; TAMWA, 1999). Efforts to address it have been regarded as shameful and pointless (TGNP, 1993). Indeed, cultural mores remain very contentious with regard to the activities of the Tanzanian domestic violence rights movement (DVRM). It is this conflict between the movement's efforts to educate the public, advocate for victims, and reform laws based on women's rights, and the cultural values and beliefs that impede its progress, that call my attention to exploring the movement in Tanzania.

This study examines the state of the DVRM in Tanzania. The study is aimed at answering the overarching question: What is the nature of the domestic violence rights movement in Tanzania? A conceptual description of Tanzania and a discussion of the complexity of studying the cultural and traditional customs surrounding a social problem like domestic violence frame this research. Feminist and social movement theories guided the analysis. A qualitative phenomenological approach was used to gather various forms of data in Tanzania between June and October, 2007. Data included 36 semi-structured in-depth interviews, 70 hours of observation, and 85 hours of material collection. The analysis thereof focused on the experiences and meanings representatives of DVRM organizations and related entities attached to the phenomenon of the DVRM and its impact on victims.

The primary avenues through which the DVRM has focused its efforts include advocacy and legal clinics, education and awareness, and legal reform. However, a combination of economic, social, cultural, political, and legal constraints have worked together to hinder the development process of the DVRM and its efforts to assist domestic violence victims. Differences between rural and urban settings, and within particular religious settings, are highlighted. Policy reform, hard work, commitment, more time, and consistence in the efforts are necessary for the growth of and effective DVRM movement.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access