The Sexuality Blog: Tanzania’s Magufuli is really out here arresting schoolgirls for falling pregnant

Magufuli

The president of Tanzania, Robert Magufuli was hailed as a revolutionary when he took office a few years ago. He seemed intent on changing the status quo and rejecting the obsession with wealth that seems to corrupt other African leaders. But we should have known that he was only waiting in the wings with idiosyncrasies of his own, that he would enforce on his constituents.

In mid-2016, we reported the very first strains of a policy that targeted teenage girls who fall pregnant in secondary school and punish them by expulsion and corporal punishment. We were somewhat concerned but we stayed hopeful that it was just more propaganda first surfaced online. But it seems we were the naive ones because to a number of reports included the SAFM news we’ve tweeted above, Magufuli has begun to make good on his promise to arrest and punish teenage mothers, citing that their immorality must be punished and they must be taken out of the school environment. It is bad enough that because of religious sentiment and an abuse of office, women are being targeted and their lives derailed.

According to reports, five girls were arrested from the town of Tandahimba in a drive to purge the town of teenage pregnancies after 50 girls got pregnant in the last year. The men with whom they conceived their children are currently being hunted down and according to town authorities, will be punished as stringently as the girls. Non-profit organisations in Tanzania are already bandying together to protest the arrests and force the town’s government to let the girls return to school after the births of their children and we sincerely hope they succeed.

No one should have to suffer the indignity of being denied an education because they gave birth to a child.

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