“Allow teen mothers to resume school”

“Allow teen mothers to resume school”

Date: June 26, 2017
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For immediate Release: Nairobi – 23/6/2017

African women and girls are outraged and incensed by yesterdays utterances by Tanzania President John Magufuli that teenage mothers impregnated while still in school should not be allowed to go back to their studies for fear of influencing other school girls to also fall pregnant.

“That in this 21st Century, President Magufuli whom we thought pegged his campaign on a transformational streak can wake up one day and re-victimized teenage girls who fall pregnant while in school is incredulous and utterly disgusting especially after all the efforts over the years to decriminalize teen pregnancies!“ exclaimed Dinah Musindarwezo, the Executive Director of the pan-African organization, African Women’s Development and Communication Network, FEMNET.

“African women are strategizing and mobilizing with other women’s rights organization to compel President Magufuli to make an apology to Tanzania’s girls and all the young women in Africa and retract that statement immediately!”

Yesterday, president Magufuli was quoted in Daily nation’s Publication The East African saying the girls should not be allowed back to school during his administration. “If we were to allow the girls back to school, one day we would find all girls in Standard One going home to nurse their babies.” He said and instead proposed that the girls be taken to vocational training centers where they would not “influence others to also get pregnant”.

“With all the work we have done to emancipate Africa’s girl-child from the shackles of discrimination and violation, a sitting president turns-around and “re-victimize” and treating their situation like a terrible infectious disease which other girls must be protected from”. This is just unacceptable and the Tanzania Civil society and all women’s rights organizations regionally and globally must not allow this unfortunate threat to suffice”, said Ms. Musindarwezo.

Shocking Retrogression

“We are shocked and disgusted. It is a betrayal of the highest order. President Magufuli now stands black-listed in our course” Reacted Kavinya Makau, an African feminist lawyer and women’s rights defender. “It is a shame that Tanzania which has obligations to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) of which Tanzania ratified in March 2007, would take this retrogressive path”

Kavinya indicates that President Magufuli’s government ought to respect, promote & protect the rights of women and girls as per regional and international Obligations in Article 2, 12, and 17 of the Maputo Protocol.

The Director of Equality Now, Africa Office, Faiza Mohammed stresses, “It is unfortunate that instead of addressing sexual violence in schools (which is why girls are getting pregnant) President Magufuli aims to re-victimize young girls by denying them their right to education. This is unacceptable, unconstitutional and violates various international human rights treaties that Tanzania is obligated to adhere to including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. This is not what you would expect of a public leader let alone the President of the Republic!”

Violated in retrogressive cultural practices in several parts like Female Genital Mutilation and forced child marriages, the girl child in Tanzania has a myriad of violations committed against her that must be urgently eradicated and not encouraged. As of 2015 there were 118 births per 1000 girls aged between 15 and 19

A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 37 percent of Tanzanian women aged 20-24 years were first married or in union before the age of 18, between 2000 and 2011.

22.8% of young women between the ages of 15 and 19 are mothers, according to the latest available government data from the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey 2010. Tanzanian women, the survey shows, have an average of 5.4 children each. Click here for more

For more information please contact:

Memory Kachambwa, Head of Programmes: progmanager@femnet.or.ke
Tel: +254792050552

Mildred Ngesa, Head of Communication: communication@femnet.or.ke
Tel: +254727137853

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