Nyiraneza (not her real name), a pregnant teenager from Karongi District, says she had been impregnated by a man, after giving her Rfw10,000 and promised to help her sort out all her needs if she only accepted to sleep with him.
At the beginning, Nyiraneza tried to cover her pregnancy but as time went on, her womb started to get bigger and she was not able to cover it again.
When her parents and relatives knew about her pregnancy, Nyiraneza refused to tell them The father of the coming child.
“At home, we are very poor. We are not able to even pay for Mutuelle de Sante, I don’t know how I will raise my child. Perhaps one day his dad will change his position and help me to raise our baby,” she desperately said.
After a long session of talk, Nyiraneza ended by disclosing her secret to a staff of Action Aid and a member of the National Women Council at the cell level.
“They promised to pay Mutuelle de Sante for me. And if they help me to cover my basic needs, then there is no reason to still cover that man, after what he did to me,” she said.
Some residents from the same area say covering men responsible for defilement is still the main reason for which the cases of teenage pregnancies raise every day.
Clementine Niyonkuru from Murundi Sector in Karongi District said youth should play their role to end defilement and teenage pregnancies, by denouncing these criminals.
“When someone abuses sexually a child and he is not held responsible, he takes it normal and does it several times with different children. Victims have to overcome their fear and talk about what happened to hold these defilers accountable for their wrong deeds”, she said.
Annet Karubibi, Action Aid Representative from Karongi District said they have groups of girls, and they empower them with skills to fight for their rights and protect themselves from any form of violence, including sexual violence.
She talked to The Child Focus, at the occasion of launching Action Aid’s activities during 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
They are also trained on how to denounce sexual violence when any of them meets it. She emphasizes the role of the young girls in fighting sexual violence and protecting each other from it.
“They have to know that their lives lie in their own hands, and no one has to abuse them. The same message goes to the boys…it is time for them to understand that their rights are the same as those of girls, they have to grow together and have the same development opportunities.”
Valentine Mukase, Vice Mayor in Charge of Social Affairs in Karongi District said they still meet the challenges to take into justice men who are responsible for defilement because victims themselves refuse to give out the needed information.
However, Campaigns continue to change the mindsets of girls, parents, and communities in general, and tell them that it is a crime heavily punished under the penal law of Rwanda, she said.
More than 340 children under 18 gave birth in Karongi District, this year.
According to the Law Nº68/2018 of 30/08/2018 determining offenses and penalties in general, in its article 123, provides that if someone is convicted of child defilement, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty (20) years and not more than twenty-five (25) years.
The article also reads that if child defilement is committed on a child under fourteen (14) years, the penalty is life imprisonment that cannot be mitigated by any circumstances.
If child defilement committed on a child of fourteen (14) years of age or older has resulted in an incurable illness or disability, the penalty is life imprisonment. If child defilement is followed by cohabitation as husband and wife, the penalty is life imprisonment that cannot be mitigated by any circumstances.
If child defilement is committed between children aged at least fourteen (14) years without violence or threats, no penalty is pronounced.