Tanzania: Protect Girls from Physical and Sexual Abuse in Schools!

  • by: Julie S.
  • target: John Magufuli, President of Tanzania; Hon. Prof. Joyce Ndalichako, Tanzania's Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training

According to the United Nations children's agency (UNICEF), 10% of girls in Tanzania experience sexual violence at the hands of their teachers.

Elin Martinez, researcher of the Children's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, found that sexual coercion by teachers was "shockingly common" in Tanzanian secondary schools, and that corporal punishment occurred frequently as well.

An adolescent girl named Lucia told Ms. Martinez that her teacher began pressuring her for sex when she was just 14 years old. "[He] tried to convince me to have sex. He was approaching me during [sports] field practice...he would call me when [other] students went for a break."

When sexual abuse results in pregnancy, the victim is denied the right to continue her education. Girls are subjected to mandatory pregnancy tests, and pregnant girls are not allowed to stay in school. Sadly, more than 8000 Tanzanian girls drop out of school each year as a result of pregnancy. Married girls are also not accepted in Tanzanian schools.

Please sign this petition demanding that the government of Tanzania pass comprehensive legislation that protects girls from physical and sexual abuse in schools. Such legislation should ensure that pregnant and married girls are not expelled from school, that teachers who abuse students are prosecuted, and that mandatory pregnancy tests and corporal punishment are banned. These objectives have been suggested by Human Rights Watch representatives, and if enacted, would provide girls the right to receive an education without fear of violence.

Dear President Magufuli and Minister Ndalichako,


We are deeply concerned regarding the high rate of physical and sexual abuse that girls are enduring in Tanzanian schools. According to the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), 10% of girls in Tanzania experience sexual violence at the hands of their teachers.


Elin Martinez, researcher of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, found that sexual coercion by teachers was “shockingly common” in Tanzanian secondary schools, and that corporal punishment occurred frequently as well.


As you are aware, when sexual abuse results in pregnancy, the victim is denied the right to continue her education. Girls are subjected to mandatory pregnancy tests, and pregnant girls are not allowed to stay in school. Sadly, more than 8000 Tanzanian girls drop out of school each year as a result of pregnancy. Married girls are also not accepted in Tanzanian schools.


We urge the government of Tanzania to pass comprehensive legislation that protects girls from physical and sexual abuse in schools. Such legislation should ensure that pregnant and married girls are not expelled from school, that teachers who abuse students are prosecuted, and that mandatory pregnancy tests and corporal punishment are banned. These objectives have been suggested by Human Rights Watch representatives and if enacted would provide girls the right to receive an education without fear of violence.


Thank you for your consideration.


[your comments]


Sincerely,


[your name]


 

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