Background According to a WHO multi-country study, Tanzania is among the countries with a high prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The Demographic and Health Survey 2010 shows that there are several regions with high levels of IPV within the country, including Singida. There is an ongoing national effort to strengthen the police as well as the legal and health systems from the national to the community level to address IPV. The objective of this study was to describe the views and experiences of women living with HIV/AIDS of a government available system addressing IPV at the community level at Singida Regional Hospital in central Tanzania.
Methods This was a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews (IDIs); content analysis was used to analyse the findings.
Results The study suggests that there is a functional government system starting from the street chairperson, progressing through the police and legal systems up to the national level. IPV survivors were afraid to report their male partners to the police and legal system because of their fear of retaliation, loss of financial support, divorce and death, and their concern about who would care for their children. Also there were no psychosocial services at the community level. However, survivors of IPV end their IPV cases at the lower level of chairperson of the village. The findings suggest that there are no shelter services for IPV survivors in their community to provide for their basic needs.
Discussion Our study showed that women living with HIV/AIDS report IPV to the chairperson of their village, in-laws and their parents rather than the police or legal officer due to fear of retaliation, lack of economic support, concern for their children, lack of support from family and friends, stigma and fear of losing custody of children associated with divorce, and the fear that their partners will kill them.
Conclusions Our study concludes that the government of Tanzania needs to provide health education to communities about using the available government system to address IPV cases, to enhance community empowerment, especially for women living with HIV/AIDS, and to build safe homes for IPV survivors in the communities. We strongly recommend strict policies relating to men who inflict IPV on their female partners and strong action must be taken against them.