In a statement issued yesterday, Dr Mzuri Issa, director of TAMWA Zanzibar expressed concerns over the increasing rape incidents in the Indian Ocean Archipelago, calling on Tanzanians to provide education on the effect of child pregnancies in order to save children from this malaise that affect them physically and psychologically, while others lost their lives.
She said: “This problem can be only addressed by joint efforts among community members including religious leaders, politicians, and women’s activists to come up with a specific plan to educate the community on the effects of childbirth at an early age.”
According to her, TAMWA Zanzibar has recently received shocking reports of a child under the age of 15 being raped, became pregnant and eventually lost her life during birth.
She cited recent reports from the victim’s parent, the incident took place in Wete District, Pemba North region and the victim died on June 25, 2020.
TAMWA Zanzibar conducted a survey on the effects of child pregnancies and found a plethora of problems including physical and psychological trauma as well as the loss of life.
According to health expert, Dr Kamilia Ali Omar of the maternity unit at Mnazimmoja Hospital in Zanzibar said, child pregnancies could lead to fistulas, cervical cancer and other diseases that occur due to some organs in the body of young girls which are not matured enough hence causing complication during the birth.
"Giving birth under the age of 18 is life-threatening for both mother and baby because the pelvic of a child under the age of 18 are not matured enough to push the baby, so it puts the parent at risk of getting fistula, or the parent loses life or some illnesses, says Dr Kamilia.
Dr. Kamilia said health experts recommend giving birth at least 20 to 22 years of age.
She recommends that if child pregnancy problem arises in a child, it is best to refer to a clinic as early as possible so that health professionals could keep her safe for the life of mother and child.
On the other hands, a psychologist from Zanzibar School of Health, Asya Saleh Abdullatif, said child pregnancies lead to mental congestion that can lead to unnecessary fainting’s or mental illness.
Asya also said that child pregnancies lead to frequent outbursts where the carrier may commit a terrible mistake against her or someone else which could cause harm.
TAMWA Zanzibar has identified child pregnancies in four areas – either being raped, forced marriage, child marriage or sexual inducement.
The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training Zanzibar has identified a total of 88 incidences of child pregnancies and 50 child marriages in the past three years.
Therefore, statistics in terms of education are often obtained after children drop out of school due to pregnancy or marriage. It is also possible that there are other girls in the community who dropped out of school in the past or did not go to school before and their information was not recorded.
It is good for the community to be aware of this problem of teenage pregnancy in order to save the lives of these girls and also for the government to take stern action against people who rape young girls and those who marry off their girls at a tender age.