Tanzania: Enhance Access to Justice for Adolescent Girls
For the last 59 years, Tanzania has had a discriminatory ban that denies pregnant school girls their right to education. This ban does not take into account the jarring realities that often lead to the pregnancies in the first place.
In the past 4 years this ban has been aggravated and reinforced by various political pronouncements. It prohibits girls from accessing education, not just for the duration of their pregnancy but even after. Considering that these girls may first be survivors of sexual violence or sexual exploitation, this ban is not only unjust but a double violation of their rights.
Did you know that:
- More than 55,000 schools girls in Tanzania have been expelled from school over the last decade as a result of the ban yet Tanzania continues to hold the unenviable reputation of having one of the highest rates of sexual violence in sub-Saharan Africa?
- Tanzania is among countries with the highest adolescent pregnancy and birth rates in the world, with 21 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 having given birth based on a 2015/16 survey by the Tanzania’s own Bureau of Statistics?
- Tanzania is currently ranked position 11 for having the highest absolute number of child brides in the world, according to UNICEF?
Sadly, the existence of excessive patriarchal attitudes in Tanzania means that girls and women are treated with astounding levels of contempt. This is so much that in December 2017 President John Magufuli pardoned two paedophiles and renewed calls to have pregnant school girls arrested before he later invited the paedophiles to the Tanzania State House. The two had been convicted of sexually assaulting 10 children among them girls, aged between 6 and 8.
Even though Tanzania is bound by regional and international laws to protect girls and uphold their right to education and ensure their freedom from sexual violation, the issues remain largely unaddressed. Many sexual violence cases are settled outside of the country’s justice systems through traditional means, while girls who fall pregnant as a result are forced out of the education system. This is partly because of the systemic problems that arise when cases are reported; lack of political will and the reinforcement of the culture of silence.
Call on the government of Tanzania to protect girls
As an organization that champions the rights of women and girls, Equality Now calls on the government of Tanzania to lift the discriminatory ban against school going pregnant girls; protect girls from sexual exploitation; and address any other ineffective policies that preclude adolescent girls from fully enjoying their rights.
Please join Equality Now in urging President Magufuli, the Ministries of Education and Vocational Training; Defense and National Service; and Constitutional Affairs and Justice as well as Tanzania’s National Assembly to protect and uphold the rights of girl and women without any limitations.
You can also take action to address sexual violence in your community by:
- Ensuring that girls and women within your immediate environment are protected from sexual and physical violations by reporting incidents of sexual and physical violation of girls and women whenever they occur;
- Writing to your Member of Parliament and tag them online (if possible) asking them to take deliberate steps in ensuring that the right to education for girls is upheld and that the ban is lifted; and
- Asking your MP to ensure that laws are harmonised so that girls can be protected from sexual and physical violence and also from early, child and forced marriages.