Mozambique: Ministry of Education Rejects Curbs on Sexual Abuse

A pregnant school girl (file photo).

A plan to curb school-related, gender-based violence by targeting the men responsible for school-girl pregnancies was turned down, apparently by the Minister of Education and Human Development Conceita Sortane in January.

The proposal was written by an internal ministry working group to revise the 2003 ministerial regulation 39/GM/2003 which forces pregnant schoolgirls to attend night classes. This punishes and stigmatises the schoolgirls, encouraging them to drop out, argues Francesca Salvi, who wrote the paper cited in this newsletter (409, 30 April). Her paper "In the making: constructing in-school pregnancy in Mozambique" is available free.

The rejected draft regulation is very strong, saying that "a considerable number" of schoolgirls "suffer harassment and sexual abuse by heads of schools, teachers, other education workers and other students" and that in some cases they become pregnant. This permanently harms the well-being of the schoolgirls. The rejected draft regulation calls from the suspension and disciplining of school heads, teachers and trainers who harass, violate, or impregnate schoolgirls. It also says that pregnant schoolgirls should attend day classes and the action should be taken to "prevent stigmatization [and] discrimination".

The 2003 regulation had already called for the suspension and disciplining of teachers and education workers who impregnate schoolgirls, but only if they are at the same school. This was rarely applied but the Minister of Education underlined the requirement in a ministerial instruction in April 2016. However, the Public Integrity Centre (CIP) responded that the civil service regulations set strict time limits for suspension and disciplinary hearings, and that these were not included and thus the 2003 and 2016 directives were illegal. The rejected draft regulations have the same gap.

The rejected draft, the CIP report with the 2003 and 2016 directive, and an English translation of the 2003 directive are available here.

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