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Punished for teen pregnancies in Malawi

Scrolling down some headlines on Agence-France Presse, I saw an article that intrigued me and I have thought it wise to share this one with you.

A certain school in Malawi punished young girls who had pregnancies. And oh, even the boys who had impregnated the girls were punished too.  The court endorsed this.

Now, fourteen girls have now launched a legal challenge against the decision to punish them. Some of their parents were even jailed. Simply because their daughters were pregnant.

In April 2016, a primary school in Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi gave one-year suspensions to several students aged 13 and 14. The boys who impregnated them were also suspended. The girls were also referred to a magistrate court which fined each of them $14. Students who failed to pay were imprisoned, along with their parents, and were freed only after paying the fine.

Victor Gondwe, a lawyer representing the girls, told AFP that they were going to challenge the “strange orders” imposed by a lower court that all pregnant girls be sent to prison. He further remarked that it was “quite strange and awkward to criminalise pregnancies.”

Laws in Malawi provide it that pregnant girls should be suspended from school for one year.

This “strange” phenomena in Malawi must be subject to review, in fact, subject to change. Parents cannot be jailed over the shortcomings of their children. Most importantly, we do feel these suspended children are prejudiced from their fundamental human right of education.

The problem may be traced to how how Malawi is impoverished. So little girls may resort to unorthodox means to make ends meet. In doing this, obviously unprotected sex is practised.

In addition to this, we strongly feel that it is the issue of how sexual education still remains a taboo in most of the African families. Therefore to punish people for such circumstances is unjustifiable.

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