A university in Uganda is forcing its female students to take random pregnancy tests, and expelling those who are pregnant.
Bishop Barham College in Kabale district, which is affiliated to the Uganda Christian University, suspended 26 females following the first round of tests, and expelled three for illegitimate - read: outside of marriage - pregnancies.
The students accused the university for acting harshly as they were not given the chance to defend themselves, Campus Times Uganda reported.
A snapshot of the university's website
Following an outcry from female activists, students and human rights charities, Rev Dr John Senyonyi, the vice chancellor of the university, which also has a curfew, was to describe the fuss as symptomatic of the "spiritual and moral darkness" taking over the country, Standard Media quoted.
The press officer for the university added: "Our policy here is that you came to study but not to get pregnant."
An article written for UCU's community newspaper quotes the university's counsellor, Joseph Musaalo.
"'[Sex] must be with the right person at the right time.'.. Hence the UCU code of conduct; she who gets pregnant out of wedlock commits and offence, he who gets a woman pregnant out of wedlock commits an offence.
"The university is at liberty to take action against any student who breaks these rules irrespective of faith."
Far from being typical of institutions in the African country, UCU appears to be acting alone. The Makerere University, the oldest institution in Uganda, appointed 100 students to hand out condoms and contraceptives to their peers.
Jane*, a teacher at a school near the university, said she was surprised when she read about the tests in the local paper as there "doesn't seem to be much stigma about being pregnant outside marriage".
"It's not uncommon for men and women to have children by more than one woman/man and I know quite a few people (including some very rich) who had children then got married in one case many years afterwards."
A Ugandan teaching assistant, who wished to remain anonymous, told HuffPost UK the practise of random pregnancy testing only takes place at Christian universities, of which there are two in Uganda.
"When students sign up, they sign an agreement which includes a clause stating that if they become pregnant out of wedlock they will be asked to leave," she explained. " At this point they have the option of going elsewhere, although sometimes it is the parents who want them to go to a Christian university to keep them on the right track.
"However it is common to become pregnant outside of marriage in Uganda."
*Jane's name has been changed to protect her identity.
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more