20 January 2017

Tanzania: New Law to Protect Schoolgirls

Kampala — Schoolgirls, who are impregnated may finally be rescued from dropping out of school if a new law is passed by the East African Legislative Assemlby (Eala) currently holding a session.

The EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill, 2017, will be tabled before the House as a private motion Bill by an Eala member from Rwanda and former Minister of State for Social Affairs, Dr Odette Nyiramilimo. She said on Wednesday that he proposed for the law to have a provision, which prohibited the expulsion of pregnant students from school and other educational institutions.

According to her, the legislation will also offer opportunities and facilities to schoolgirls, who are impregnated before completing their primary and secondary education to complete their studies.

School pregnancy is among the main challenges facing the education sector in the East African Region, leading to hundreds of schoolgirls dropping out of school. Eala senior public relations officer Bobi Odiko could not explain if the Bill would be among those to be tabled or debated during the current session of the House in the Ugandan capital, which ends on January 26.

Already five Bills are lined up for tabling and these include at least two, which are related to girl education or girls' welfare, the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016 and the EAC Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation, 2016.

Others are the EAC Retirement Benefits for Specified Heads of Organs Bill, 2016, the Administration of East African Court of Justice Bill, 2016 and the EAC Cross Border Trade in Services Bill, 2016. According to Mr Odiko, the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016 makes the provision for gender equality, protection and development in the regional bloc, while the EAC Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016 is seen as critical in outlawing the cultural practice.

The latter Bill, originally moved by Ms Dora Byamukama (an Eala MP from Uganda), states the culture of FGM brings with it a number of complications, including early child marriage, defilement and health complications that sometimes lead to the transmission of HIV/Aids and death and injuries to the victims.

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