Tanzanian authorities order arrest of pregnant schoolgirls

Pregnant girls — Photo Credit: girlsglobe.org

Authorities in Tanzania’s northern region of Mwanza have ordered district commissioners to ensure the arrest of all pregnant schoolgirls in the region to serve as a deterrent.

Regional Commissioner John Mongella said on Monday that pregnant girls should be arraigned before a court to testify against the culprits thereby preventing other girls from engaging in sexual activities, reports local news portal The Citizen.

“There have been a tendency of pregnant schoolgirls not to mention the name of a person who impregnated them. This is a challenge when one is required to testify in court,” Mongella said during a meeting with education stakeholders.

The region’s educational officer Michael Lugola told The Citizen that their pupils underperformed in the national primary school leaving examination due to pregnancy. He said 33 pupils have dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy this year.

The decision to arrest and force pregnant pupils to name and testify against culprits will be a breach of human rights principles.

In June, President John Magufuli upheld a controversial 2002 law that bans pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school after giving birth. He also added that men who impregnate schoolgirls should be imprisoned for 30 years.

The president is currently under another criticism for granting pardon to prisoners on Saturday including two child rapists who were sentenced to life in prison.

Congolese musician, Nguza Viking alias Babu Seya and his son Johnson Nguza alias Papii Kocha were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 after they were found guilty of raping and defiling ten primary school pupils between the ages of six and eight in 2003.

President Magufuli pardons child rapists, Nguza Viking & his son Johnson Nguza. They were sentenced to life in prison for raping ten girls in 2003 aged between six & eight years from a primary school in Dar es Salaam. pic.twitter.com/3KT5DBrNrT

— Man in Black ??????? (@69mib) December 11, 2017

There were cheers after the announcement of their release while child rights advocates questioned the decision which did not take the victims into consideration.

The director of local NGO Community for Children Rights, Kate McAlpine told the BBC she was “horrified but unsurprised”.

The government’s decision was also largely criticized by social media users.

Below are some Twitter reactions.

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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