Malawi teens challenge order punishing them over pregnancies

2017-05-02 21:29

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Blantyre - Fourteen teenage school girls in Malawi on Tuesday launched a legal challenge against a controversial court decision to punish them over pregnancies, including jailing some of the girls' parents.

In April 2016, a primary school in Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi gave one-year suspensions to several students aged 13 and 14.

The boys who impregnated them were also suspended.

The girls were also referred to a magistrate court which fined each of them $14.

Students who failed to pay were imprisoned, along with their parents, and were freed only after paying the fine.

"We are asking for a review of the strange orders imposed by a lower court that all pregnant girls be sent to prison," Victor Gondwe, a lawyer representing the girls and their parents, told AFP.

He said it was "quite strange and awkward to criminalise pregnancy."

"You don't get imprisoned for the acts of others," the lawyer said by telephone from the northern town of Mzuzu, the nearest to Nkhata Bay, where the High Court heard the case.

Laws in Malawi, a deeply impoverished country, stipulate that pregnant school girls be suspended from classes for one year.

Read more on:    malawi  |  southern africa

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