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Q&A – 22 May 2017

Objecting another wife in polygamous marriage

I am one of the two wives of a certain man. Our husband is highly depending on myself and my co-wife on sustaining his own life. I am personally working hard for our family. Surprisingly, our husband now wants to add another wife. We have objected to this but he maintains that we were all married in polygamous marriage thus there is nothing we can raise as an impediment. I am scared about this new marriage because the woman he wants to marry has health which is questionable. We have been tipped that a notice of intention to marry has already been issued to the office of the registrar. Is there a way we can avoid or prevent this marriage?
ER, Dar

The provisions of the Law of Marriage Act has provisions under Section 20 which covers your situation.

The said provision states that where a man married under a polygamous marriage has given notice of an intended marriage, his wife or, if he has more than one wife, any of his wives may give notice of objection to the registrar or registration officer to whom the notice of intention was given on the ground that either having regard to the husband’s means, the taking of another wife is likely to result in hardship to his existing wife or wives and infant children, if any; or that the intended wife is of notoriously bad character or is suffering from an infectious or otherwise communicable disease or is likely to introduce grave discord into the household.

Once your objection is sent to the Registrar or the registration officer, the marriage shall not take place unless the said objection has been determined by the Board (Marriage Reconciliation Board).

We advise you and your co-wife to take the above approach. This might be resolved also if you involve elders in your family. Otherwise you may need to consult a family law attorney for appropriate steps.

Misbehaving nurse

I have been frequently attending a certain government hospital for the purpose of taking my old man who goes for special medication there. Strangely there is one nurse who uses extremely offensive language with patients. There are a lot of complaints by the other patients but it seems all these are falling on deaf ears. Is there a regulatory framework against unprofessional conduct of nurses?
SD, Dar

We are alive to existence of the Nursing and Midwifery Act, No 1 of 2010 which is an act to make provision for protection, promotion and preservation of the public health, safety and welfare through regulation and control of nursing and midwifery education and practice. This is the specific law which regulates conduct of nurses as you have brought it up in your question.

Among the reasons where a person’s fitness to practice as a nurse is impaired includes abusing a client verbally, physically, sexually or emotionally among others as provided under this Act. The remedy for this is for one to present a complaint to the Tanzania Nursing and Midwifery Council, whereas the Registrar of the council who also serve as the Chief Executive Officer shall put the law in motion by dealing with the complaint appropriately.

This law provides for serious penalties against nurses including striking them off the register. We are informed there are very few such complaints lodged as people are unaware of this mechanism. Your lawyer can explore this avenue further.

Service of summons on maid

There is a case that went against me at the High Court that I was not aware of. Apparently the Court served my house when I was not there and left the summons to file defence with the maid. Is this proper service of such an important Court document?
TY, Dar

The Civil Procedure Code states that where in any suit the defendant cannot be found and has no agent empowered to accept service of the summons on his behalf service may be made on any adult male member of the family of the defendant who is residing with him. It further states that a servant is not a member of the family within the meaning of this rule. Hence service on your maid is not proper service and you can make an appropriate application to set aside the ex parte or default judgment.

Advert by doctor curing AIDS

There is a traditional doctor who is gaining a big reputation for being able to cure HIV/AIDS. It is known that there is no such cure. How can he be allowed to publicize himself like this? Is there no law that prohibits such adverts? On a different note can a doctor without consent take a patient’s blood to test for HIV/AIDS before he operates on her/him? If such a patient turns out to be positive, can the doctor refuse to operate on her/him?
SM, Moshi

The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act 2008 provides in section 27 that (1) all statements or information regarding the cure of HIV and AIDS shall be subjected to scientific verification before they are announced. It further states that publication of statements or information shall be attached with both evidence of pre- and post-cure HTV test results.

This law provides that a person who makes or causes to be made any misleading statement or information regarding curing, preventing or controlling HIV and AIDS contrary to this section commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than one million shillings or to imprisonment for a term of not less than six months or to both.

This witch doctor is thus in clear contravention of the above. On your second question, the same law provides that any health practitioner who deals with persons living with HIV and AIDS shall provide health services without any kind of stigma or discrimination. The law further states that no person shall deny any person admission, participation into services or expel that other person from any institution on the grounds of the person’s actual, perceived or suspected HIV and AIDS status.

To sum up, the doctor cannot forcefully take blood for HIV testing from a patient and neither can he deny her/him treatment based on the HIV results.

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