What you need to know:
- The number of underage girls impregnated in Rwanda has tripled over the last three years according to the Ministry of Health.
- The figures that shot from from 17,337 in 2017 to 23,628 in 2019.
- Increasing number of defilement blamed on parents not taking up their responsibilities, loss of culture etc.
- The Senate has asked the State to develop special educational aids for the campaign to include strategies in households.
The number of underage girls impregnated in Rwanda has tripled over the last three years according to the Ministry of Health. Senate committee on Social Affairs and Human Rights blame the figures that shot from from 17,337 in 2017 to 23,628 in 2019 on parents and culture.
The committee findings concluded that the increasing number of defilement in the country was as a result of parents not taking up their responsibilities, loss of culture, dare to offenses, bad attitude and ignorance, failure to control lust and disrespect to children.
“Parents lack time to discuss with children the values of Rwandan culture, reproductive health as well as appropriate use of technology,” said Senator Adrie Umuhire, chairperson of the committee, “They don’t educate children to be satisfied with their families’ economic status,” she said while presenting their findings.
She noted that some of the children are lured to sex with gifts, free transport offers in private vehicles, among others.
Senator Fulgence Nsengiyumva said combating sexual abuse among children requires could require involving the children themselves.
Senator Pelagie Uwera proposed mechanisms of imposing social media restrictions for underage children, blaming the rise of alcohol consumption among children on online activities.
Even though the country has been initiating strategies to overcome the problem, senators questioned efficiency of implementation.
“Educational aids such as ‘Improve Your Relationship with Your Spouse’ and ‘Talk to Your Child’ do not help adequately prevent child sexual abuse,” the committee chairperson said.
Only 1,866 cases of defilement were prosecuted in 2017/2018 out of which 78.9 per cent were found guilty. There were 2,221 cases prosecuted in 2018/2019 where 73 per cent were guilty. Cases that fail are as a result of lack of adequate evidence in courts.
Senator Evode Uwizeyimana said there is no legal gap as the “ceiling” has been reached in the penal code against the crime, pointing out family weaknesses.
“As they lack time for children, parents leave computers as children’s daily toys. Parental control could help restrict them from accessing certain content,” he said.
The Senate has advised the government to compile and publish annually a list of convicts of child sexual abuse to bring it to the public to attention. They also want the State to conduct regular community-based campaigns in villages and schools.
They have asked the State to develop special educational aids for the campaign to include strategies in households.