Direct on the heels of my last post in which this year’s Nyerere Day was celebrated with a nod to his philosophies about a Tanzanian citizenry that includes every member – women! – I found this piece from The Financial Times, which both saddens and infuriates me.
Around the world, vile abuses are still being perpetrated against the female sex in such high profile cases as the Dominque Strauss-Kahn rape; Roger Ailes sexual harassment; Bill Cosby’s drugging of women; Donald Trump’s groping and bragging; and Harvey Weinstein basically being a creature from hell. And there are many more.
These headline-making cases are revolting enough, but the crimes that occur against women in a low profile context, in developing countries, or from low-income households, without voices, and without advocates are beyond sickening.
Take President Magufuli’s ban against pregnant schoolgirls in Tanzania. Not only is it one-sided and grossly sexist, it robs both these young women and their children of any right to fulfilling and productive lives while at the same time creating a double-headed drain on Tanzania’s meager economy.
Whether his reasons for the ban are his strong religious beliefs, the patriarchal attitude that pervades the country, or the notion that these pregnant youngsters will somehow “infect” their peers, Mr. Magufuli needs to wake up and take a dose of reality.
Sex happens. TEENAGE sex happens. Nothing is going to stop that. So his best bet is ramping up a sex education curriculum in order to prevent early and unwanted pregnancy among this sector of the population. This includes educating the male students as well.
Second to that is providing services to these young mothers-to-be so that they may care for themselves and their children even without a formal education.
By cutting pregnant schoolgirls off from education and therefore employment, he is creating a situation in which they are left with no means of self-care; moreover, he is taking no preventive measures to stop the wave of teen pregnancies.
Mr. Magufuli might think he is punishing these women. He is. But, more to the point, he is punishing his whole country.
Tanzania’s Enemies of the State: Pregnant Young Women
The country’s president has condemned teenage girls who become pregnant as ‘immoral,’ banning them from ever returning to school.