5 schoolgirls in Tanzania have been arrested, authorities quote “so that they can help with information on the men who impregnated them.”
The girls aged between 16 and 19 were arrested as part of a policy against child pregnancies.
Sebastian Waryuba the District Commissioner said that the schoolgirls were arrested last week.
“We have managed to arrest the girls and their parents but unfortunately those who impregnated the girls have escaped and we are looking for them.”
Pro female rights groups have criticised the arrests, stating that the men who impregnated them should have been arrested instead. The girls were later released on bail and authorities are still searching for the men involved.
Christa Stewart, a lawyer who works with charity Equality Now stated about the case:
“Prosecuting girls who are victims of sexual exploitation and violence, whilst allowing adult perpetrators to go free, sends out the wrong message.
“In a misguided attempt to prove that they take sexual violence seriously, the Tanzanian government is infringing on the human rights of adolescent girls and this is unacceptable. Arresting victims is never the solution.”
Tanzania’s sentence for those who impregnate schoolgirls is at least 30 years in prison to discourage early marriages and more teenage pregnancies that can lead to completely dropping out of school.
Human rights groups however condemned authorities for not implementing policies that allow schoolgirls to return to class after pregnancies but instead chastise them.
Human Rights Watch says many girls regularly experience sexual harassment and exploitation by teachers in schools and that schools lack adequate ways to report these abuses or confidential reporting mechanisms.