Q&A – 15 April 2024

Gender scan before birth

We are an expatriate couple expecting our second child while in Tanzania. During our first pregnancy, we could not have a gender scan because the laws of our country of work prohibit such scans.  We want to know if gender determination before birth is allowed in Tanzania. Please guide us.
LM, Dar es Salaam

Congratulations on your pregnancy. It is true that some countries restrict gender determination before the birth of a child for various reasons. In the case of Tanzania, we have not found any law that prohibits determination of the gender of a child before birth. From our research, we have discovered that, while there are no specific hospital appointments to scan for the gender of a child, medical ultrasounds are a standard practice in maternal care in Tanzania. Some people take that opportunity to also determine the gender of the child.

Medical practitioners may also know the gender of the child while conducting the scan. However, the gender may not be revealed to the expectant parent if they have not requested for a determination. It therefore mostly depend on the parent’s interest as there are no legal restrictions. Gender determination before birth is a common practice in cities such as Dar es Salaam. In rural areas, old wives tales are also popular among expectant parents looking to determine the gender of their child.

Having said the above, it is illegal to abort after knowing the gender of your child.

Restitution of gift in contemplation of marriage

I am a young businessman based in Arusha. This year has been a tragic one for me. I gave my fiancé a diamond ring for our engagement. However before we could get married, my fiancé died in a car accident and now I want to recover the engagement ring from her family. To my surprise, the family refused to return it. According to them, the customs of her people prohibits return of such gifts and since we had no children, my fiancé left her next of kin as her heirs. The diamond ring is the most important item of remembrance of our love. It is also a very expensive ring, and I am determined to get it back. What does the law say about this? Kindly advise me. 
VB, Arusha

We are sorry to hear about your loss. In general legal understanding, a marriage is a contract between two parties. In Tanzania matters related to marriages are governed by the Law of Marriage Act [Cap. 29 R.E 2019] (LMA).  The LMA provided that gifts given in contemplation of marriage may be returned. According to  section 71 of the LMA, a suit may be brought for the return of any gift made in contemplation of a marriage which has not been contracted, where the Court is satisfied that it was made with the intention on the part of the giver that it should be conditional on the marriage being contracted, but not otherwise.

The law provides a right to recovery subject to satisfaction that the gift was in fact conditional to the marriage. Gift given in contemplation of a marriage can be of different but since you have mentioned an engagement ring our advice is limited to that item only. We have not found cases in Tanzania on engagement rings but the position in other common law countries is that engagement rings are intended to be conditional gifts. The reason given by Courts is that the ring is in theory a pledge of the parties’ intention to marry. The giver of the gift (donor) may not recover where he is the one who in whatever way prevented the marriage from taking place. Here, the receiver of the gift (done) may retain the gift. Conversely, the donee is required to return the gift if she is the reason the marriage was never contracted. However, if neither of the parties prevented the marriage, there is an implied term that the gift will return to the donor and in that case, you may recover the ring. Your lawyer can guide you further.

False information on social media

I am a law abiding citizen and have noticed that some Tanzanians have a habit of putting false information on social media. My concern is that these people are not afraid at all as and will continue to do so. What is the position of the law when it comes to this? Kindly enlighten me. 
DN, Dodoma

Criminal conduct on online platforms is prohibited by the Cybercrimes Act No. 14 of 2015 (Cybercrimes Act). On publication of false information, section 16 of the Cybercrimes Act states that any person who publishes information or data presented in a picture, text, symbol or any other form in a computer system knowing that such information or data is false, deceptive, misleading or inaccurate, and with intent to defame, threaten, abuse, insult, or otherwise deceive or mislead the public or councelling commission of an offence, commits an offence, and shall on conviction be liable to a fine of not less than TZS 5M or to imprisonment for a term of not less than 3 years or to both.

The law clearly prohibits publication of false information, however, enforcement may be challenging. We understand the cyberspace is a vast and complex area and this makes enforcement of the law quite difficult. Our law enforcement relies on law abiding citizens such as you to report these crimes. You may consider reporting the persons you have identified publishing false information on social media to the authorities for further follow up on the matter.