A document from the Mozambican Police (PRM) that has leaked in local media in early August revealed that 15 students had become pregnant at a police training school in Matalane, a district of Maputo province.
The document states that the pregnancies resulted from the students’ sexual relations with their instructors, without specifying whether these relations were consensual.
Moreover, it states that pregnant students will not be able to complete the course at present, and will have their trips back to their home provinces paid for by the police. Finally, it says that the instructors involved will be “suspended.”
When asked about the case by the newspaper O País on August 8, Police Commander General Bernardino Rafael said that those involved would face disciplinary proceedings.
It did not take long before the case was widely condemned on social media. Several users publicly expressed their disapproval of the school's measures, as well as demanding justice for the women.
Activist Fátima Mimbire wrote on Facebook:
Tratem o assunto Matalane com a devida seriedade. Estou de coração partido com esta notícia de 15 instruendas grávidas no Centro de Treinos de Matalane. Isso é grave. É grave porque, como o próprio documento refere, envolve os instrutores.
Ora, uma pessoa que detém autoridade sobre outra a engravida e o fim é um “processinho”? Isso me lembra o professor que exige sexo às alunas em troca de notas ou para não serem humilhada na sala de aulas por serem, na visão do professor, “burras”, no lugar de ser processado é transferido para ir dar aulas em outro lugar. E lá, continua as suas façanhas.
Treat the Matalane issue with the appropriate seriousness. I am heartbroken by this news of 15 pregnant students at the Matalane Training Centre. This is serious. It is serious because, as the document itself states, it involves the instructors.
Now, one person who holds authority over another gets them pregnant, and the outcome is a “little process”? This reminds me of the teacher who demanded sex from students in exchange for grades or not to be humiliated in class because, in the teacher's view, they were “dumb”, instead of being prosecuted he was transferred to teach somewhere else. And there, he continues his exploits.
Txeka, a women's activist collective, also condemned the affair on Twitter:
“Caso de Matalane”
A edificação de uma sociedade de justiça social, na defesa de igualdade de direitos os cidadãos, passa por uma politica de educação e formação equilibrada, valorizando a formação dos cidadãos, com preparação científica e educação moral, cívica e patriótica. pic.twitter.com/fiMoyq3DOW
— Txeka (@TxekaMoz) August 10, 2020
“The Matalane case”
Building a society of social justice, in defence of equal rights for citizens, requires a balanced education and development policy, valuing the development of citizens, with scientific knowledge and moral, civic and patriotic education.
A culpabilização da violência contra a mulher é uma prática comum nas sociedades machistas/patriarcais, conhecidas pela desvalorização da mulher e submissão às vontades do homem, causando julgamentos acerca da conduta da vítima, atenuando a conduta do agressor. pic.twitter.com/OGbrfeOUVa
— Txeka (@TxekaMoz) August 11, 2020
The Matalane case
Blaming violence on women is a common practice in chauvinist/patriarchal societies, known for devaluing women and submission to the wishes of men, resulting in judgements about the victim's conduct and minimizing the aggressor's conduct.
University Professor Carlos Serra said:
Matalane? Apenas a ponta do Iceberg, somos formatados para reproduzir Matalane. Imagino o dia em que elas começarem a narrar as suas histórias, começando pela mais tenra infância.
Matalane? Just the tip of the Iceberg, we are programmed to reproduce Matalane. I imagine the day they start telling their stories, starting from the tenderest childhood.
It was similar for the journalist and activist Selma Inocência:
Poucos professores são levados à justiça, julgados e condenados. São responsáveis pela infância perdida de milhares de meninas. A escola não é segura.
Estatísticas revelam que centenas de meninas são engravidadas na escola, parte delas por tutores, professores, directores.” pic.twitter.com/Q8F0LPbbpw
— Txeka (@TxekaMoz) August 13, 2020
Few teachers are brought to court, tried and sentenced. They are responsible for the lost childhood of thousands of girls. School is not safe.
Statistics reveal that hundreds of girls get pregnant at school, some by tutors, teachers, headmasters”.
A petition is also running demanding punishment for the police officers involved. So far, over 3,800 people have signed it.
On August 19, President Filipe Nyusi finally spoke about the case, saying it will be investigated by the police:
Para o Governo, este caso é sério e está a ser investigado ao detalhe ao nível ministerial e do Comando-Geral da Polícia da República de Moçambique. O Estado não deve nem vai tolerar situações como esta. A lei deverá ser cumprida e ela é igual para todos nós. Ninguém está acima da lei.
Decorrem inquéritos para aferir os contornos de cada um dos casos, procurando salvaguardar o estado psíquico e emocional das gestantes, porque elas merecem respeito humano.
For the government, this case is serious and is being investigated in detail at ministerial level and by the General Police Command of the Republic of Mozambique. The state should not and will not tolerate situations like this. The law must be upheld and it is the same for all of us. Nobody is above the law.
Investigations are underway to assess the details of each case, seeking to safeguard the psychological and emotional state of the pregnant women, because they deserve humane respect
This adds to the cases of violence faced by Mozambican women, most of which go unreported by media.
Among the cases that have recently captured media attention is that of Alberto Niquice, deputy for the party Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo), who's facing criminal charges for raping a 13-year-old child in 2018.
Early this year, 30 Mozambican civil society organizations demanded the suspension of Niquice's inauguration, who was re-elected in 2019. However, the deputy took office and is working as normal in the Assembly of the Republic.
Another case covered in the press was the case of domestic violence suffered by Josina Machel, daughter of Mozambique's first president, Samora Machel.
In October 2015, Josina was assaulted by her partner of three years, Rofino Licuco, leaving her blind in one eye. Licuco was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison, as well as to pay 300 million meticais (about US$4.2 million) in compensation to Josina.
However, Rofino appealed the sentence and, in June this year, the High Court of Appeals overturned it on the grounds that there was “insufficient evidence” in the case.