Thursday, 11 January 2018 09:13

TANZANIA: 'No Charges' for the Pregnant Schoolgirls

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January 10, 2018 - Dar es Salaam - The authorities in Tanzania will not charge five pregnant schoolgirls who had reportedly been arrested over the weekend on the orders of a local government administrator.

Speaking to the BBC, Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byankwa said that no charges were made against the girls or their parents, and therefore no-one was to be taken to court.

He added that they were looking for whoever impregnated the girls:

The solution is the get the parents themselves and interview them and find out, dig up the roots to how far this problem goes in the community and find a sustainable solution.

Kate McAlpine, director of the Arusha-based Community for Children Rights, told the BBC that there is nothing under Tanzanian law to allow schoolgirls to be arrested for being pregnant, adding:

“The 1998 Sexual Offences Provsions Act does not criminalise underage sex.”

Ms McAlpine says that child younger than 18 who engage in sex would be considered victims under the law.

More than 15,000 pregnant girls drop out out school every year in Tanzania, according to Human Rights Watch.

Tanzania's Health and Demographic Survey reports that 27% of adolescent women aged between 15 and 19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

Last year, President John Magufuli said his administration would not allow teenage mothers back to school after giving birth.

Child rights campaigner Kate McAlpine believes that the commissioner responsible for arresting the five schoolgirls is “currying favour with the president by mimicking his stance”.

By Tulanana Bohela
Source: BBC Africa

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