Threat of sexual assault amongst female students in Tanzania

By Stella Peter & Martha Malyi

Students in Tanzania, especially girls of secondary and primary school, are often faced with various sexual harassment and assault issues that have caused them to abandon their academic pursuits and drop out of school, often creating a psychological impact as well.

Issues include: unwanted pregnancies due to rape, early marriage, and forced sexual activities like prostitution, all of which impact their academic abilities and ultimately lead them to drop out of school in fear of harassment or embarrassment from other students.

The Headmaster of Msimbazi Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Mr. Kagaruki S. J, said that last year one of his form four female students was chased away from school due to pregnancy. As a result, she did not complete her studies or her final examination as a form four student, which is required in order to move onto the secondary advanced level of education prior to undergraduate studies.

Mr. Kagaruki added that many students have been involved with men and end up engaging in sexual activities, which impacts their studies and causes them to fail or leave school to escape bullying and harassment by their fellow students.

Another teacher from Msimbazi Primary school, Mr. Raymond Gweba, said that in his school similar situations have also occurred in the last three years. Six female students from the school suffered from embarrassment when people they didn’t know coerced them into doing things of an explicit nature, and took photos despite their knowledge that they were being taken.

“It was a shocking event in our school because it never happened before and this made them to be affected psychologically and drop their average, but we tried a lot to help them and made them back in a normal situation and recover their ability to study” said Mr. Raymond.

According to the Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre’s 2012 Human Rights Report, 43,129 students dropped out of school due to pregnancy, early marriage, rape, and truancy.

The report indicated that one of the major factors is the lack of dormitories at some of the schools, which makes most of the students walk a long way to get to class and can make it dangerous for them, especially for girls who are subject to incidents of rape and forced sexual activity.

A nurse from Mwananyamala Hospital in Dar es Salaam said that they have received a lot of primary and secondary students who have been through these sorts of traumatic events, such as pregnancy under eighteen, victims of rape, and many other kind of sexual assaults while they are still very young.

“To reduce these kind of problem in our society, those who are responsible for those embarrassment are supposed to be punished by being imprisoned for many years since the girls has the right to be educated without any interference. And also parents has to raise their children in good way and educate them on the effects of engaging in sexual activities while still at young age” suggested Joyce Daniel, when asked as to how to eradicate the problem so as to provide children the right to education that they deserve, without any interference.

Stella is a student of Mass Communication with a certificate in Journalism and Media Studies. Stella is passionate about the rights of women and children, and her goal is to focus on these rights in her career as a journalist.

Martha is interested in writing on human rights, particularly the rights of women. Her goal for the future is to create awareness on violence against women, and make their rights known in developing countries, like Tanzania, where it is an ever-growing problem.

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