The president of Tanzania, John Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his energetic push for road construction projects and his reputation for honesty as a minister, has asked the men in his country to marry two or more women in a bid to curb prostitution among women in Tanzania.
Magufuli said that many unmarried women are having to commit adultery with other women’s husbands because of a “lack of men to marry.” Among the 55 million inhabitants of Tanzania, the ratio is 96 men for every 100 women, as is the average in other African countries.
“I am not forcing you, but just encouraging you to marry two or more wives to reduce on women staying without husbands,” said the head of state at a conference in Dar es Salaam to an audience of 14,000 men. “Our women are crying every day due to lack of men to marry and support them economically; hence they engage in prostitution.”
He went on: “So please try to work hard and be productive so that you can help our women by marrying two or more wives”—that is, he added, “provided you are able to provide for their basic needs.”
He then went on to say the government would support the men who heeded his request with “small incentives,” provided they did not mistreat their wives.
Tanzania has the highest level of prostitution in East Africa, in particular among the girls and women who do not attend school and do not have formal employment.
This proposal appears to be a typical approach of dealing with the effects rather than the causes. In fact, prostitution is an effect of poverty, and the AIDS epidemic is, in turn, an effect of prostitution (and is the main cause of death for the 15-to-34-year-old segment of the population).
According to the World Bank, 20 percent of the population in Tanzania owns more than 50 percent of the wealth of the country, and the per capita income stands at a mere $2,528 a year. Thirty-nine percent of women in rural areas are illiterate, compared to 23 percent of men. Fifty-nine percent of women do not complete primary school, and less than 1 percent have finished high school. Seventy-six percent of adult women have not received any formal education.
Furthermore, 26 percent of households are made up of only women and children. Twelve million Tanzanians (most of whom are women) are living in extreme poverty, with an income of less than $0.60 a day. Getting a husband just might not be enough.