Tarime — More than 180 schoolgirls were forced to abandon their studies due to gender-based violence in Tarime District, Mara Region between January and December last year.This was revealed yesterday by the Tarime District Commissioner, Mr John Henjewele, during the opening of Children's Dignity Forum in Tarime District.

He said that apart from the schoolgirls, the reports also show that more than 90 girls under 18 years gave birth at Tarime District Hospital during the same period. Most of them had conceived under incidents related to gender-based violence.

He said the number of girls under 18 years who gave birth is much higher because some of them did not report to health centres during their pregnancy.

"This situation endangers the lives of these teenage girls... conceiving before reaching 18 years is dangerous but it is more dangerous for such a child to undergo pregnancy until delivery without attending clinic," he said.

Mr Henjewele said that due to gender-based violence in the district, girls have been missing their rights such as right to education and that there was a need for all stakeholders to join hands in the fight against all incidents, which affect the young generation.

He said the situation in the district and the region in general was worse due to some outdated norms and culture such as female genital mutilation and early marriages, resulting to teenage pregnancies.

"The government is striving to educate the community. We are happy that the civil society and other non governmental organisations have been assisting the government in this," he said.For her part, the forum coordinator in Mara Region, Mrs Restuta Mpate, said that people have moral obligation to fight gender-based violence.

She underscore the need for more efforts to educate the community be directed at grassroots especially in rural areas. Mrs Mpate said that research shows that gender-based violence is still a big challenge in Mara Region and that urgent measures should be taken to end the problem.

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