Every female student at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) will now have to undergo a required pregnancy test, a decision that has worried many people in the country.
This policy started on Wednesday, and it has caused fear and stress among students. Some students are even thinking about having an abortion because they’re afraid of getting expelled.
A memo from September 16th, released by the university, stated that pregnancy tests would be done every day for the entire week at the IUIU health center.
“The test is something every female student has to do,” the memo said.
Female students at the IUIU Kibuli campus have told reporters that this policy is making them consider drastic options.
“Sometimes, you use birth control, but it doesn’t always work, and you end up pregnant. The idea of being tested by the university is really scary,” said one student who didn’t want to reveal her name because she’s afraid of the consequences.
Another student said, “To avoid disappointing your parents by getting expelled, you might think about having an abortion. But living with that guilt is not easy.”
Additionally, the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers, also known as FIDA-Uganda, has asked the university to stop this controversial policy. They believe it violates the students’ right to education and their right to privacy.
“Enforcing this notice is taking away the students’ right to education and should be reconsidered. It also violates their right to privacy because they should have a say in matters related to their reproductive health and their bodies,” said Liliane Byarugaba Adriko, the CEO of FIDA-Uganda, in a letter sent to IUIU authorities on September 20th.
“We also request that, for now, you let the students attend school without these proposed restrictions while we discuss this further,” she added.
As of the time of writing this article on Thursday, IUIU had not responded to FIDA-Uganda’s concerns.
According to Article 33(3) of Ugandan law, women and their rights are protected, considering their roles in society and as mothers. Discrimination against women is also prohibited, and women are guaranteed equal dignity as men.
FYI: A 2013 report titled “Incidence of induced abortion in Uganda 2013” found that one out of every two pregnancies in Uganda was intended, and 25 percent of women in Uganda had abortions.