Couples in Tanzania staying together under the come-we-stay relationship arrangements will soon be arrested and jailed following an order by a government official.
The District Commissioner (DC) in Ludewa, Njombe Region, Andrea Tsele, ordered the arrest and jailing of such couples noting that such relationships have yielded many street children.
According to the DC, men in the area have perfected the art of convincing women to accommodate them, and, after getting the women pregnant, they go missing, K24 reported.
“I urge you to ensure that you formally tie the knot before planning to have babies,” said the DC.
He made the remarks while speaking at a village on Monday, October 28, when he presided over a workshop that brought together men from the district.
“That (formalisation of marriages) happens in churches, mosques and the registrar of marriages office,” he said.
“And you [Ludewa police boss], I order you to arrest and oversee the prosecution of couples who are in come-we-stay relationships,” added Tsele.
The aim of the meeting, he said, was to raise awareness on backward culture that should be done away with.
“You will find so many street children loitering around. The urchins come from families in which men and women decided to live together without a legally-binding relationship agreement,” said.
“We want to reduce the number of street children. I, therefore, urge those in come-we-stay unions, and are yet to tie the knot to do so. Those who will refuse to exchange vows, should be arrested,” said Tsele.
According to him, not legaly biding marriages easily avoidable burden on the government.
He further noted that jails were meant for criminals, and people who do not want to formalise their relationships but end up having babies, are criminals to. “Jails should be occupied by human beings, not animals; a lot of resources have gone into building the detention centres, and, therefore, human beings should occupy them,” he said
“Some of the human beings who should be thrown behind bars are people who don’t want to solemnise their marriages yet they want to live together as husband and wife,” added the DC.
According to Tanzania’s Marriage Act 1971, any man and woman who have lived together as a couple for more than two years without registering the union are treated as legally married.
The law, however, says no agency or person can coerce either party into living with his wife or her husband.
“No proceeding may be brought to compel a wife to live with her husband or a husband with his wife, but it shall be competent for a spouse who has been deserted to refer the matter to a Board,” reads Section 140 of the Act.