The government's Rural Development Division concentrates on community development (including health, labor, and literacy programs) rather than on welfare programs. All public and private employees except domestic workers receive lump-sum pension payments through a provident fund system, to which the employer contributes 10% of payroll and employees contribute 10% of their wages. Old age pensions are paid as a lump sum equal to contributions plus interest. Employers are required to provide workers' compensation through a private carrier and also pay severance indemnity to workers with 3 or more months of continuous employment. Free medical care is provided by public hospitals and clinics. The elderly, widows, and the physically and mentally handicapped normally are provided for by the traditional tribal system. Orphaned and abandoned children usually are cared for similarly, but missions and voluntary agencies also are active in this field.
The government advocates equal rights and employment opportunities for women. However, discrimination and violence against women are widespread. In the public sector, the largest employer in the country, women are restricted from certain positions. Women in the largely Muslim island of Zanzibar face considerable discrimination. Islamic custom dictates limited inheritance and property rights for women. Courts rulings have upheld discriminatory traditions in the area of inheritance. In Zanzibar, unmarried women under the age of 21 are subject to two years imprisonment if they become pregnant. In response to growing concern about violence toward women, the government passed a law in 1998 mandating life imprisonment for rape and child molestation.
Although Tanzania became a multi-party state in 1995, its human rights record remained poor. Police abuse of prisoners and detainees is widespread. Prison conditions are poor, and dysentery, malaria, and cholera are common. There are reports that the government has blocked the registration of local human rights organizations.