“You have cattle. You are big farmers. You can feed your children. Why then resort to birth control? This is my opinion, I see no reason to control births in Tanzania.”
“People who use birth control…are lazy…and don’t want to work hard”
– Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli
Pause. Did he just-
Yes, folks, he did.
At a rally in Meatu, Tanzania, President John Magufuli advocated for women to opt out of birth control and contraceptives, stating that it was important to reproduce. This promotion goes against the Tanzanian Maputo Protocol which gives women rights to their own body and fertility. Not only that, but the Protocol gives women the right to decide whether to have children in the first place, gives women the agency to use contraceptives and gives women the right to choose education first rather than family. Additionally, the call to ban contraceptives goes against Magufuli’s proscription last year which has prevented pregnant girls from going to school. His statement ALSO undermines their health care system which can only afford families a maximum of four children per family.
Why is Magufuli concerned about women’s bodies and fertility rates when Tanzania is ranked 17th in the top 20 countries in Africa with the highest fertility rates?
Does he not understand that contraception is critical for women in all countries because one, it allows for women to have agency in when to start a family, and two, reduces pregnancy-related risk? Which, in Tanzania, is super important because many adolescents are impregnated and have the highest risk of infant/child mortality, morbidity, and mortality?
I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked, cisgender men don’t have to worry about periods or birthing children.
So why are men’s voices still so instrumental in regards to all women’s bodies?
Also, how belittling of President Magufuli to associate the use of birth control and other forms of contraceptives to solely childbearing. Birth control is used for a myriad of reasons!
- One, it can make women’s periods lighter and more regular.
- Two, it can stop menstrual cramps.
- Three, it can help decrease the pain caused by endometriosis, which is when the tissue that grows within the uterus, starts growing outside of it.
- Four, it helps with the polycystic ovarian syndrome which is caused by a hormonal imbalance bringing about excess body hair, cysts, and acne.
Honestly, this isn’t the first time the issue of contraceptives and birth control has made it into international headlines. It’s a problem that men feel like they have a voice too when women are the ones risking their lives. Men just always seem to want to have control over women’s bodies.
To which I say to President Magufuli and anyone who agrees that women should abstain from birth control and contraceptives:
Do not speak up on something you know nothing about.
Also, please refrain from thinking that birth control is solely attributed to childbearing.
That is all.
The ovaries have spoken.