Tanzanian President John Magufuli is facing outrage from women's rights activists and legislators after suggesting women should avoid taking birth control. During a press conference in the city of Meatu, Magufuli boldly told residents that people who use contraceptives are lazy.
“You people of Meatu keep livestock. You are good farmers. You can feed your children. Why would you opt for birth control? These are my views, but I don’t see any need for birth control in Tanzania,” he said.
According to Magufuli, women only take birth control to avoid working hard to sustain their families. Although many people would say that choosing not to have children they cannot pay for is more responsible than lazy, Magufuli argues that the country needs more people.
"Those going for family planning are lazy...they are afraid they will not be able to feed their children," he, unfortunately, continued. 'They do not want to work hard to feed a large family, and that is why they opt for birth controls and end up with one or two children only."
"I have traveled to Europe and elsewhere and have seen the harmful effects of birth control. Some countries are now facing declining population growth. They are short on manpower," he added.
His views on women and pregnancy have always been seemingly outlandish. Just last year, he banned teen mothers from continuing their education after getting pregnant.
“As long as I am president … no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school … After getting pregnant, you are done,” he said of his decision.
These views are seemingly contradictory to the policies currently in place. Cecil Mwambe, an MP, said the country's health insurance scheme can only accommodate a maximum of four children from one family, according to Al Jazeera. According to the UN population fund (UNFPA), a third of women in Tanzania utilize family planning resources. On average, women give birth to five children.
#MaputoProtocol still Art.14 on rights of women in Africa include.— AfricanFeminism (AF) (@AfriFeminists) September 10, 2018
♀️the right to choose any method of contraception;
♀️the right to have family planning education.
These rights suffer greatly when leaders force their own views on women's reproductive health#Tanzania
“We will end up with women having unplanned children, huge families and unable to sustain their lives," Judy Gitau, African regional coordinator for charity Equality Now, gives further warning of his sentiments.
Unfortunately, Magufuli's views echo those of conservatives around the world, including those residing in the United States. However, a woman's decision for her body should be her own.
“The whole issue of contraception in Tanzania is a man’s decision," Tanzanian gender equality activist Petrider Paul said. "A woman cannot make her own decision to use contraceptives without the approval of the man."
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