To some, a lunch offer may seem okay but not in this case as apparently the teacher gets more than he is bargaining for as his very obedient student tells him that her father takes them on regular basis to the most expensive joints in town for chips, places the teacher can never afford anyhow due to his meager pockets.
If you are to ponder loud, you will notice that the teacher may have a motive and not brotherly love. Let us leave that to saints. Since all those reading this are adults (hoping so), I know you know that some girls in this country of ours have fallen prey in the name of chips and are now mothers.
Luckily, that was not the case for Maria Matui; the girl in the story as she is now a legal expert who has lived long enough to share her tale with girls’ students in Dar es Salaam.
Matui cautions girls’ students to never allow men to exploit them citing her case where if she were not keen, the male teacher would have ruined her life for good.
Matui and her colleagues have now decided to establish an organization Women Action towards Entrepreneurship Development (WATED) and on this particular day, her organization has convened secondary school girls to drill them on their rights and responsibilities where several inspiration speakers had been invited.
Edna Kamaleki, an ardent advocate of children’s rights is one of the speakers and admits that girls all over the world are denied their rights simply because they are females saying the trend has not been encouraging despite the numerous national and international instruments guaranteeing them.
Kamaleki emphasizes that girls’ rights are human rights and thus no different from the rest. “Harmful traditions, social economic issues as well as poverty are some of the reasons which suppress women and girls’ rights,” she says.
Rose Funja, an IT expert another inspiration speaker for the day has always been one of the two girls throughout her studies beginning with Tambaza high school in terms of science subjects as well as in engineering at the University of Dar es Salaam. She says most girls are forced into early marriage due to poverty and end up with children and possibly sexually transmitted diseases due to lack of education.
According to Funja, such a girl will not be able to send her kids to school and the more the number of kids she bears the less the chance for them to go to school.
“An educated girl has a choice to a lot of things including deciding when to get married, and how many children she wants to have and can own some money. She can support her children and send them to school. Girls have to be educated as they have a lot to gain from education as opposed to not being educated,” says Funja.
Kay Singo, a renowned artist in the country does not mince words when it comes to the role of women and girls in the world.
“A woman is the most expressive person on earth who carries a person for nine months and the same person then tells her she has got no right. You don’t need to make noise to demand for your rights but simply use a lower note and a man will take heed,” he says.
All has been said and done, yet a lot more needs to be done if our girls are to acquire education. First, the government ought to improve its legal framework especially the Marriage Act of 1971 as it has provisions which are contrary to the whole idea of trying to assist a girl child.
With provisions such as Section 13 (1), in the law, I don’t see how we can manage so well, as I am sure those eyeing young girls for marriage are also aware of this law and they certainly will keep taking advantage of its presence.
Let the government amend this provision for it to go concurrently with the Law of the Child Act 2009. A girl of 14- 15 years according to the mentioned provision in the Marriage Act of 1971 is allowed to get married with parental consent, an age such a child ought to be in school. Such a girl has no business to become someone’s wife, let alone someone’s mum, that is absurd.
Parents should also do what is to the best interest of the child, as in the long run, success for a girl child goes to the whole family so is failure.
Let us protect our girl child from early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation and all the harmful traditional practices. Educate a girl child and you have done so to the whole society
Rose Ngunangwa Mwalongo is a Correspondent with the Guardian, Media Consultant, Trainer and an ardent advocate of human rights.
She is also an Anti- FGM and Anti- Death Penalty Campaigner, as well as a Pro- Freedom of the Press. She can be contacted at [email protected] 0715286671.