Tanzania has stepped up its authoritarian game by further attacking the rights and freedoms of women. The speaker of parliament recently banned women MPs from wearing eyelash and nail extensions in the legislative house.
Job Ndugai said on Monday that he is also considering banning women MPs with “excessive makeup” from entering the House, reports local media The Citizen.
His decision was in reaction to a statement by the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, who told the House that eyelash and nail extensions are creating several health implications for women in the country.
“Every year, the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) receives at least 700 women with health complications that are directly linked to the use of false eyelashes, false fingernails and skin bleaching,” the male deputy minister is reported to have said after he was asked for statistics by female MP Fatuma Toufiq.
A day before this incident, Tanzania’s president John Magufuli told a crowd at a public rally at Meatu in the Simiyu Region to stop birth control and produce many children to work on their farms.
He described those using family planning as lazy and afraid to work hard to feed a larger family, reports The Citizen.
“You people of Meatu keep livestock. You are good farmers. You can then feed your children. Why would you opt for birth control? These are my views, but I do not see any need for birth control in Tanzania,” he said.
“I have travelled to Europe and elsewhere and I have seen the side effects of birth control. In some countries, they are now struggling with declining population growth. They have no labour force,” he added in the presence of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative in Tanzania Jacqueline Mahon.
He called on them to keep producing children because the government is building hospitals that will improve maternal health.
This is the same president who upheld a controversial 2002 law in 2017 that bans pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school after giving birth. He also supported the order to arrest all pregnant schoolgirls to serve as a deterrent.
In January, the authorities arrested five pregnant schoolgirls and their parents. They explained that the arrest was to ensure that they testified against those responsible. The Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella issued the order at an education stakeholders meeting in December last year.
The reason behind their arrest was to end the growing teenage pregnancies in the country, prevent other girls from engaging in sexual activities and get the girls to testify against the culprits who are on the run, district official Mohammed Azizi told local media.
The country continues to deny its citizens human rights as the media, opposition parties and musicians have all been victims of the regime which has formulated laws that stifle dissent and violate freedom of expression.
The country is also considering a law that will make it illegal for anyone to question government statistics, reports rights bodies.
Unfortunately, women are the most affected in Tanzania as the men propose the laws and they only have to obey even though it doesn’t favour them.