“As long as I am president … no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school … After getting pregnant, you are done.” – John Magufuli, 2017
Those are the last words you’d expect to hear from any public official, let alone a president, but that is exactly what Tanzanian President John Magufuli announced at a rally last weekend, after endorsing a barbaric law that forces schools to expel girls who get pregnant while in secondary school. At this point, I should bring up that this law doesn’t find and expel the fathers of these children along with the mothers. They are allowed to continue their education and graduate while the mothers of their children are punished and ostracised.
It. Grinds. My. Gears.
Even the most cursory research will tell you that the less educated a mother, the lower the chances of her child surviving to age 5. Research has proven uneducated mothers raise children with lower I.Q’s. With fewer opportunities for personal and professional advancement, uneducated mothers are forced to depend on men for sustenance, often getting pregnant as a way to legally tie themselves to their financial benefactors. Less education equals more children with less opportunities and a wider poverty gap. This is all on the big, bad internet for anyone to read, especially lawmakers who will be implementing laws and presidents who will be passing them.
Let us not even mention that this new law will make teenage pregnancy even more ‘shameful’ than it is viewed right now and will push many young women to illegally terminate their pregnancies before their schools discover they are pregnant. How in the world does Magufuli expect this new law to not end in disaster?
He doesn’t think, that’s what.
He only cares about coming off as a ‘morally upright’, frugal and religious leader, tough on ‘immorality’. And women and girls are going to see their lives diminished or even lost over this. Put a woman’s body on the table and Africa regresses into a backward, oppressive country, and it is tiring.