Tanzanian authorities have arrested five pregnant schoolgirls and their parents after an order was issued last month to get all pregnant girls behind bars to ensure they testify against those responsible.
The girls and their parents, currently released on bail, were picked up in the northern town of Tandahimba on the directives of a local district commissioner, reports Africanews.
The reason behind their arrest was to end the growing teenage pregnancies in the country, prevent other girls from engaging in sexual activities and get the girls to testify against the culprits who are on the run, district official Mohammed Azizi told local media The Citizen.
The Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella who issued the order at an education stakeholders meeting in December said: “There have been a tendency of pregnant schoolgirls not to mention the name of a person who impregnated them. This is a challenge when one is required to testify in court.”
He also said pregnancy resulted in under performance of pupils in the national primary school leaving examination. 33 pupils dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy last year, he added.
In June, President John Magufuli upheld a controversial 2002 law that bans pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school after giving birth. He also added that men who impregnate schoolgirls should be imprisoned for 30 years.
The president was again criticized last year for granting pardon to prisoners including two child rapists who were sentenced to life.
Congolese musician, Nguza Viking alias Babu Seya and his son Johnson Nguza alias Papii Kocha were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 after they were found guilty of raping and defiling ten primary school pupils between the ages of six and eight in 2003.
There were cheers after the announcement of their release while child rights advocates questioned the decision which did not take the victims into consideration.
The director of local NGO Community for Children Rights, Kate McAlpine told the BBC she was “horrified but unsurprised”.