Tanzanian Girls Risk Rape To Go To School

For Tanzanian girls trying to go to school, the stakes are unbelievably high: in the dangerous temporary accomodations where the girls attending senior schools must live, they are subject to sexual harassment and sometimes rape.  Their stories are heartbreaking, and often result in women abandoning the educations that they had worked so hard to access.  The men who harass and assault the girls act mostly with impunity; the rapes have yet to result in a conviction.  The story was originally reported for the BBC by Lizz Pearson; you can read her full story by following the link above.

“Even if we scream for help, people hardly come to our rescue,” explained one of the girls. By the time the police get here, well… they’ll already be finished.  So the men just do what they want.”

In the past decade, a number of secondary schools have been opened as a response to the expansion in primary schools.  But because they were far from many villages, girls resort to living in cheap rented huts in what Tanzanians call “ghettoes,” which are located near the schools.  There is little security, but the girls risk the danger for an education, which many believe will help lift them out of poverty.  But if girls are sexually assaulted, the consequences can be dire.  Some schools have a drop-out rate of up to 20% because of pregnancy.  Officials speculate that many of these are due to rapes, which often go unreported because of stigma.

Nonprofit workers in the area have cited the need for increased education about this pressing issue. “It’s not enough just to build a hostel to keep girls safe. It’s this endemic idea that men have rights over women that needs to change,” said Rosie Martin, the chief director of African Initiatives.

This story both illustrates the bravery of the girls who are still, in the face of these terrible risks, attempting to get an education, and highlights the need both to provide them with security and raise awareness about the horror of sexual assault and harassment.


Photo from Flickr.

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Janine H.
Janine H.4 years ago

Very sad and terrible story. Always children and women have to pay the price for egoistic goals... Have "survived" this as child, but died inside...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago

Education with risks of rape-- is this really what the future holds for women.

Ade Richard Nche
Ade Richard Nche4 years ago

Women the potters of life are to be saved from the hands of egoistic men.

Christine S.

It is infuriating that men feel the need to destroy girls' lives, and even more maddening that the police don't care. The minds of police officers seem to shut down when they hear the word "rape"- maybe we just need to call it a violent physical assault and then see if the girls' trauma will be taken seriously.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal4 years ago

It saddens me to hear the risk of girls getting an education in Tanzania while many students in the US take it for granted, complain, and can't think beyond their next opportunity to escape and get high. What a waste of a valuable opportunity.

Lynn C.
Lynn C.4 years ago

Ewoud k. you've said it exactly!
Rape and abuse of women is going on all over the globe and certainly in the US. But it's what you've said - power! And some men are afraid of the power of women. It's too bad because woman's power is healing and nurturing and sustaining. Just what the world needs now.

Pradip C.
Pradip Chavda4 years ago

It is terrible but than it is not confined to Africa. In Asian countries the situation in the hinterland is very much the same. Even politicians, Sr. police officials, bureaucrats perform atrocities on these poor, hapless girls - some who are brave enough to report are shooed away by the police. Basically it is the sadistic mind of these males telling the victim Look I will do whatever I want to and you can't do a damn. Sometimes I do wonder are we really civilised????

Robert J.
Robert J.4 years ago

By continuing to ilustrate a story about Tanzanians school girls with a picture of Sudanese refugees, Care2 is saying all Africans are basically the same. They are all suffering, so Sudanese/Tanzanians, whatever ...

Loo Samantha
Loo sam4 years ago

such a sad situation, help the girls they need education.

paul block

Ryan Nixon (Mar 7, 2.55PM) notes the parallels with the situation in Afghanistan where, in "traditional", often Taleban-controlled areas of the country, girls are intimidated, sometimes with acts of dreadful violence, into staying away from school. There are, however, differences in the taxonomy of gender discrimination. In hard-line Muslim Afghanistan, the exclusively male clerics have decided - and quite contrary to the teachings in the Qur'an - that education should be denied to females. In the sub-continent, "eve-teasing" is the sport of verbally abusing young women; it causes terrible suffering for its victims and has been known to lead to physical sexual assault. In Tanzania, the perpetrators apparently need no such hazy justification for their attacks. Whether in East Africa, the Middle East or the Far East, it all leads to one conclusion: in these otherwise very different societies, women are considered second-class, are apportioned no more rights than that of property and can be abused and exploited with impunity by a male-dominated social structure and legal system. We can bluster our outrage and disbelief but, if you peek under the veneer of social sophistication and nominal emancipation overlaying the "developed" world, you will soon find the same outdated attitudes clinging on even today, right here, right now.