Thursday, July 13, 2006

Philosophy on Teen Pregnancies: A Bad Judgment?

I recent past, there were stories about the government's point of view on young girls getting pregnant while still in school. In a nutshell, through the Deputy Minister of Education, Hon. Mwantumu Mahiza, the Bongoland government regards the issue of teen pregnancy as a matter of discipline [ Read the original story here]. Specifically, if I am not mistaken, the government's verdict and judgment on a young girl who gets pregnant is "hana adabu". Period.

I do understand that there are cases where vijibaba who "violates" our young sisters have been pursued by the government. Nonetheless, Hon. Mwantumu's comments, gives the impression that the government does not equally deal with the violators of young girls so severely.

In my opinion, this just a very simplistic view to a complex social problem. I understand that from our Bongoland perspective, a girl is supposed to "watch" herself, present herself worthy of marriage, keep herself chaste and all that. As such, a girl who gets pregnant at the age of 15, for instance, is regarded as "loose", overly promiscuous, and tons of other social stigmas. While that could be true, I am of the opinion that there are so many psychological, social, and economical factors that do play into our behavior.

Making a policy statement without adequately taking all possible factors into account is just a bad jugdment and essentially being shortsighted. Making a policy statement that solely blames a "child" and not other adults involved is just plain wrong. I mean, where do the parents come into the equation? Where does the government itself come into the game? Where is the policy to tame sugar daddies who prey on young girls? See, my conviction is that a 15 or 17 years old girl is still a child. As such, we should not expect them to make the best of judgments in the world. Given that fact, it is the responsibility of a "responsible" government to do all it can to protect that "child", before shooting blames on her.

I believe that we all can agree that teenage or the period of adolescence is the most turbulent time in our experience. That is a widely known social and psychological fact. I know that for a fact because I went through it. I believe you went through it also. This is a reality that the "experts" at the Ministry of Education should know. As such our legal and educational approach should be set in a way that it ensures (without compromising discipline) that our teenagers transition well into adulthood. That objective should be accomplished through a legal framework and well designed educational and social programs.

For you in the United States can agree that the US system has done a good job of protecting children from sexual predetors. In the United States of America for instance, having a sexual relationship with a minor is illegal, whether the "child" constented or not. The objective is to ensure that despite the teenagers' bad judgment, adults cannot take advantage of "children". Why can't we do that in Tanzania?

As I have pointed out earlier, Tanzania seriously suffers from a leadership deficiency. We have leaders who do not critically think before making decisions or policy comments. As such, we have so many policies that drafted out of "mila za Kiafrika" while ignoring scientific realities. Consequently, we end up viewing anything scientific as "uzungu". If that is the case, what's the use of our leaders going to school? Si tungewafufua tu akina Chifu Mirambo ambao hawakuwa na madigrii kuongoza nchi?

If our philosophy is to blame a young girl who has been raped for her pregnancy instead of protecting her, then something must be very wrong with our thinking. But unfortunately, that is the reality in Bongo. That is what our educated leaders' philosophy is.

1 comment:

J-view said...

I could not have agreed with you more brother.