A Rant: Magufuli Is Creating A New Brand Of Misogyny
Africa has been begging for progressive leaders who are willing to move their countries forward and catch up to the global norm. There has been a rise of these ‘progressive leaders’ and Tanzania’s John Magufuli is viewed as one. Famous for cleaning up Tanzania’s top state agencies of corruption and a proactive policy implementation stance, Magufuli was seen as a beacon of hope in the new wave of African politics. However, it seems like the chickens have come home to roost. This guy is exposing a side that might lead to the worst women rights violations in this decade.
Tanzania has a history of being tough when it comes to women emancipation. Its laws on pregnant secondary school students have been strict for the longest time and they were made worse in 2002 when the pregnant girls were expelled and banned from attending government schools even after birth. As if this was not enough, Magufuli reinforced this policy last year, but however, it has reached a tipping point. Girls are being arrested for being pregnant and their partners are being hunted by the government.
Before I go any further, I do not in any way condone these pregnancies as they are both mostly as a result of statutory rape and they disturb one of the most important aspects of life, education. However, let’s be very objective about this and look at these ‘laws’ from a progressive point of view.
Over the last two decades, most African nations have been moving in to protect the girl child. From the increment of years when it comes consent, to the clampdown of child marriages and genital mutilation. All these initiatives have been applauded as steps in the right direction in a bid to set up a society which protects the rights of the girl child. I applaud all of those, but let’s not be hypocrites here.
We shouldn’t allow the selective application of rights. In that regard, if a young girl gets pregnant they still have a right to continue their education. Regardless of the fact that she might have to pause her education for a while, resumption should not be a debatable issue. They are still human and pregnancy does not change that. They must still have access to this basic right which the Tanzanian Government accepted when they ratified both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
For a leader who has been hailed as a game changer by prominent Pan-Africanists, Magufuli certainly has a sad case on his hands. It is my hope that he changes his stance before a promising political career is tainted by the failure to adjust to changing cultural norms. Women are no longer bound to the clutches of society and a whole President should not be perpetuating their persecution. Let’s not act like we are empowering women whilst we are shattering dreams at the same time.