IN a trend that has exposed the continued exploitation of the girl child in both rural and urban communities, 63 girls in Bulawayo dropped out of school after being impregnated, while about 40 pupils were also impregnated by gold panners in Ntabazinduza within a year.
Sunday News understands that although various campaigns have been carried out against child sexual abuse, the practice was still rampant and every year many girls are forced to drop out of school after falling pregnant. According to Zimbabwean laws, sexual intercourse with anyone below the age of 16 is a criminal offence, yet the majority of school girls who fell pregnant fall below the age of consent.
Bulawayo provincial education director Mrs Olicah Kaira told a meeting hosted by the Matabeleland Council for the Welfare of the Child last week that since March last year when the country went into Covid-19 induced lockdown, at least 63 girls dropped out of school in the city after falling pregnant. However, in 2020, the Government amended the Education Act to allow pregnant girls back in class but reports indicate that a few girls were returning to school, as they have to assume motherly roles.
According to Mrs Kaira, last term, Bulawayo saw three girls drop out of school due to pregnancies, while one 12-year-old pupil committed suicide during the term.