File: A sign that reads 'Stop Rape'. Flickr/Nigsby
DAR ES SALAAM - Tanzanian police said they were investigating allegations that some of their own officers raped and sexually harassed several women in nightclubs after the explosive claims sparked an outcry and calls for urgent action.
The allegations were made at a public meeting with the commissioner of Handeni district in the coastal region of Tanga this week.
Television footage of the gathering showed women weeping as they recounted and shared their ordeals.
"They force you to have sex with them and if you refuse, they will frame unnecessary reasons to arrest and keep you in the lock-up," one woman, who was not identified, said in the video.
"They come at midnight with their guns and do whatever they want to the women. It's really brutal," one man at the meeting said.
Politicians demanded immediate action against the policemen named in the video, with the women's wing of the main opposition party Chadema urging "all other women facing gender-based violence (to) raise their voice."
"This is humiliation and violence against women, committed by people who were supposed to protect the women," another opposition party, The Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo), said in a statement.
Police said they had opened an investigation into the allegations and urged calm.
"After noticing the seriousness of the claims, we have sent our officer to investigate the matter and establish what exactly happened," police spokesman David Misime said in a statement.
"We are gathering evidence and if we confirm that such claims are true, actions will be taken in accordance with the law. Nobody is above the law," he said.