KAMPALA – The Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) has defended its policy on mandatory pregnancy tests for female students, saying it is in line with its values and principles.
According to Rehema Kantono, the IUIU Public Relations Officer, the institution is rooted in Islamic principles, and as a result, both students and staff are expected to adhere to rules and regulations that align with these values.
She insisted that pregnancy tests are among the requirements for female students, as long as they are not married.
When a university memo calling on all students to undergo the pregnancy tests surfaced on social media, several rights activists, including the Women’s Pro Bono Initiative (WPI), an NGO that offers legal support to females and girls, have been up in arms, saying this infringes on students’ rights.
But Kantono emphasized that these tests have been standard practice at IUIU for many years and do not compromise students’ privacy, as the results are not made public.
She also noted that these pregnancy tests are not unique to IUIU, as many educational and other institutions also conduct similar tests.
Rahom Maria Bukirwa, the Program Manager at Women’s Pro Bono Initiative (WPI) had stressed that compulsory pregnancy testing goes against the principle of informed consent. It’s crucial to acknowledge that the choice to take a pregnancy test should be made by the individual.
According to Bukirwa, enforcing these tests on students without their agreement diminishes their autonomy and disrespects their right to make personal decisions about their bodies.
“Subjecting students to mandatory pregnancy testing perpetuates harmful stereotypes and assumptions. It presupposes that all female students are sexually active and potentially pregnant, thus reinforcing outdated notions of morality and stigmatizing those who may not conform to societal expectations,” she said.
The Women Probono Initiative recommended that the university prioritize the promotion of comprehensive sexual education, easily accessible reproductive healthcare, and support networks for students instead of imposing mandatory pregnancy testing.