Campaigners condemn arrest of Tanzanian schoolgirls for being pregnant
Barriers to education, Girls' education, Right to education
The five students and their parents were detained on the orders of a regional government official but will not face any charges.
The arrest of five pregnant schoolgirls in Tanzania has been condemned by human rights activists.
The students and their parents were detained on the orders of a local government official. They were later released and authorities said yesterday they would not face any charges.
The stance of Tanzanian leaders on the issue of pregnant girls has angered campaigners. President John Magufuli vowed last year that pregnant schoolgirls or students who had given birth would not be allowed in school.
Then there was an outcry last month when a regional commissioner called for pregnant students to be arrested so they could testify against the men who had made them pregnant.
More than 55,000 Tanzanian schoolgirls have been expelled from school over the last decade for being pregnant. And over 15,000 pregnant girls drop out of school every year, according to Human Rights Watch.
The five girls were arrested in Tandahimba district following a crackdown by commissioner Sebastin Waryuba. He ordered police to arrest 55 girls who became pregnant in the past two years.
Waryuba said: “This should include those who left school two years ago. It doesn’t matter whether they are already out of school or not.
“I want this to serve as a lesson to the rest.”
But yesterday it was reported there will be no charges against the girls or their parents. Authorities said they are still looking for the men who made them pregnant.
Kate McAlpine, director of the Community for Children Rights, told the BBC there is nothing under Tanzanian law to allow schoolgirls to be arrested for being pregnant. She added: “The 1998 Sexual Offences Provisions Act does not criminalise underage sex.”
The east African nation has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy and birth rates in the world and 21% of girls aged 15 to 19 have given birth, according to a 2015-16 survey conducted by the Tanzania Bureau of Statistics.