More than 55,000 Tanzanian schoolgirls have been expelled from school over the last decade halloween shirts for pregnant women being pregnant, perpetuating their vulnerability and poverty, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) said on Thursday.
From the age of 11, schoolgirls are forced to undergo humiliating and painful pregnancy tests as often as once a month, the U.S.-based advocacy organisation said in its report, "Forced out: Mandatory pregnancy testing and the expulsion of pregnant students in Tanzanian schools". If pregnant, they are expelled immediately.
"Girls are expelled from school regardless of how they get pregnant," Evelyne Opondo, CRR's Nairobi-based Africa director, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"A lot of the girls who get pregnant at that age are actually girls who are vulnerable. They are girls from poor families. They are girls who have been exposed to sexual violence," she said.
One of the girls interviewed for the report was raped at the age of 13. Others were sleeping with older men in exchange for school fees, food or shelter.
"When you expel them from school, you deny them that chance of education. You confine them to that circle of poverty," said Opondo. "They will remain poor and their children will be poor most likely."
Expelled teenagers face widespread stigma, the possibility of being forced into marriage and the challenge of providing for themselves and their babies. Some wealthier families are able to send their daughters to private schools but the majority end up looking for casual work.
None of the expelled girls interviewed has a full-time job. Some work part-time in hotels or restaurants or sell food on the streets. Several were thrown out by their families and one ended up homeless.
Tanzania has a problem with high teenage pregnancy rates. Over 44 percent of Tanzanian girls have given birth or are pregnant by the age of 19. It also has one of the world's lowest rates of transition - of both girls and boys - from primary to secondary school, at 36 percent.
The punitive measures meted out by schools ignore the underlying realities that cause adolescent girls to get pregnant in the first place, the report said.