Insiders Insight: Restricting women’s rights in Tanzania
This week’s free preview section (scroll down to see it) is about the latest state assault on women’s rights in Tanzania.
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Restricting women’s rights in Tanzania
Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s campaign to restrict women’s choices and opportunities continues. First, he suggested that young women who became pregnant should be barred from schools. Now, he wants to take away their birth control.
Earlier this month he suggested that women give up contraceptives and said that families looking to limit their children were lazy and unwilling to work hard to provide for them.
At its root, this assumes women should have little to no control over when or if they become pregnant. It also ignores the fact that – given gaps in the the country’s health infrastructure – being pregnant in Tanzania can be incredibly dangerous: the maternal mortality ratio is 570 deaths for every 100,000 live births, according to the World Health Organization. (To compare, the UK’s rate is 9 deaths per 100,000 live births.) It fails to acknowledge that for some families, no amount of work is going to overcome limited opportunities and poor wages.
Now, other officials are also adopting this impulse to restrict women’s choices. Parliamentary Speaker Job Ndugai, for example, has told female members they cannot wear fake nails or eyelashes.
Initially celebrated for his populist political approach when he first took office in 2015, Magufuli has grown increasingly autocratic and restrictive – including in cracking down on sexual minorities and other marginalised communities’ access to healthcare. Now women’s reproductive choices are also in his crosshairs. Who knows which of their rights will be next.
- Tanzania’s Magufuli calls for end to birth control (BBC)
- Some additional background on the crackdown on LGBT groups
- Tanzania: Everyone is scared (African Arguments)
- Tanzania: The tentative but rising resistance to Magufuli’s repression (African Arguments)
Compiled by @_andrew_green
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