No charges have been laid against five pregnant schoolgirls in Tanzania who were arrested at the weekend, authorities have said.
The BBC reports child rights campaigner, Kate McAlpine, as saying that the girls and their parents were arrested over the weekend by a local government official wanting to curry “favour with the president by mimicking his stance”.
Tanzania President John Magufuli caused a stir last year when he announced that teen mothers would not be allowed to return to school after giving birth.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 15 000 school girls drop out of school every year as a result of falling pregnant, while Tanzania’s Health and Demographic Survey reported that 27 percent of adolescent females between 15 and 19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.
McAlpine, who is the director of the Arusha-based Community for Children Rights, speaking to the BBC, said that Tanzania did not have any laws allowing schoolgirls to be arrested for being pregnant.
“The 1998 Sexual Offences Provisions Act does not criminalise underage sex,” she said.
She added that children younger than 18 who engaged in sex would rather be considered victims under the law.
Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byankwa told the BBC that authorities would not be charging the girls or their parents and that there would be no court action.
However, he explained that authorities would be searching for the men responsible for impregnating 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,” Byankwa explained.