HelpAge International II
Tanzania, October 2005
Helpage International works in northern Tanzania to address the growing problem of elderly women who are accused of witchcraft. Traditionally women in the region are not entitled to keep their husband’s land or livestock after they die & it is returned to his family or is passed on to his children. Old women are therefore often left destitute with no means of survival.
The growing problem with HIV/ AIDS in the region has also resulted in many people between the ages of 18 & 49 dying. Many elderly people have lost all their children and are now the sole carers of their grandchildren. The HIV epidemic is fueling belief in witchcraft and women who lose children are being accused of conjuring up their deaths. The sickness is being blamed by communities on witchcraft that increases older women’s vulnerability.
Some people have been brutally murdered as a result and others have been left severely disabled or injured. There is little legal redress and many women are too scared to approach the local police.