(MS) Five Tanzanian teenagers were detained just for being pregnant over the weekend as part of the government’s widely condemned crackdown on child pregnancies.
The girls were arrested along with their parents in the northern town of Tandahimba before being released on bail.
Tanzania has been criticised by human rights groups for its hard stance on teenage pregnancies. A law dating back to the 1960s allows schools to ban young mothers from attending and has been used to kick out more than 55,000 pregnant teens in the past decade.
Tanzania President John Magufuli publicly supports the ban despite his party’s manifesto pledge to allow pregnant school girls to continue their studies.
Gender and human rights activists have said that the authorities should have arrested the men that caused the pregnancy rather than the victims.
In Tanzania, around 20 per cent of women have given birth between the age of 15 and 18.
According to women’s rights groups, many of these pregnancies are a result of rape and coercion and they maintain that banning girls from school punishes the victims and could further entrench poverty.