By Elias Hakizimana.
Lack of awareness about sexual reproductive health and different social issues have triggered an alarming issue that make confront with challenges in the future of girls’ development, with some being lured into having unprotected sex at their younger age.
A 19-year-old Josiane Muhoza was impregnated when she was in primary school. She is one of victims of lack of information about reproductive health besides her vulnerable conditions that distracted her from paying attention before having unprotected sex.
After giving birth, Muhoza who was only 16-year-old came in Kigali in 2015 for domestic work after her dad passed away, and only her mother struggled to look after the family as she could hardly get food and clothing for them owing to extreme poverty.
“I thought I could only suffer from poverty issues but never thought I could also suffer from another pain-that is becoming mother at such teen age. These issues prevented me from caring about birth control. Teenage girls need to be educated about reproductive health at early age to avoid similar consequences like what I am facing to date.” Muhoza said.
The teenage girl started to strive for surviving as she used to live in poor conditions and the little money she could earn through on-wage casual labour, could only be spent on a small rented house in Ndera Sector.
Divine Uwase, a student from Senior 3 at G.S Nzove in Nyarugenge District told The Inspirer that, “Lack of financial means for parents, learning bad behavior from bad friends, desiring for luxurious needs such as smart phones and garments from men among many others contribute to teenage early sex.”
Uwase said that as consequence, most of teenagers after facing this problem drop out of school.
Drug abuse affecting birth control
Drug abuse, also the accelerating cause that lures teenagers into early sexual intercourse is a critical scenario which the young generation should be warned of.
Uwase said that she has witnessed different cases whereby girls get impregnated by men who give them expensive gifts while others get addicted to drug abuse and finally get impregnated.
Janviere Uwera, 16, another student in senior four, said that conflicts in families who even do not care for their children lead the teenagers to engage in early sex.
“If you have parents who are always quarrelling and disturbing children, attending school is not possible. Some girls expect some basic needs from attempting men because they do not get them from their parents and finally get impregnated,” Uwera noted.
Esther Umutoniwase, the 12-year girl who is currently domestic worker in Kanyinya sector said she came to Kigali city after her parents in Nyanza district lacked capacity to pay school fees for her.
.They were speaking during the girls’ day organized by Rafiki Club with aim to share with youth more information on reproductive health, sexual infection transmission (STIs), fight against teenager’s early pregnancies , drugs prevention and Voluntary Counseling Testing (VCT),
The Club) based in Nyamirambo, Kigali, was founded by the Dominican fathers to meet the needs of a particularly disadvantaged sector of Kigali city.
According to the club coordinator, Omar Tony Nsengumuremyi The Club Rafiki Youth Friendly Center attract young people especially out of school youth to other programs of the Club Rafiki, such as sexual reproductive health discussions, HIV testing and prevention, library, access to computers and the internet.
They also access to facilities for studying (where electric light is available), language and literacy classes, hairdressing classes, karate, table tennis and outdoor activities such as basketball and basic playground gym equipment.
The club also makes available talented Basket players who join other big clubs, he said and added that every day over 300 youth come to the club’s facilities.
.“They learn ICT, language, train them how to use computer for business generation, photography, dancing so that we help them curb unemployment and we reward those who perform well. A baseline we did more than 53 per cent of students who used to fail in class finally improved after gaining more skills through Rafiki club,” he said.
Dropping out of school at such age, prevents from having knowledge about sexual reproductive health, and most of house maids are exposed to forced sex by their male bosses or get lured into such behaviors by their colleagues.
According to Aimable Mutabazi, the youth coordinator in Kanyinya sector, only in 2018, some 28 girls dropped out of school due to early pregnancies and 18 of them were returned to school through different supports.
According to Dr. Jeanine U. Condo, the Director General of the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), Difficulties in accessing to information and inequality due to poverty are on the top of the common threats hampering women and girls to access to sexual and health reproductive rights.
Given that 52 percent of population of Rwanda is female, Dr. Condo said there is a need to concentrate deliberate efforts in empowering everyone including women and girls to make the right decisions towards reproductive health especially family planning.
“For example, unwanted pregnancies can set emotions and miss-opportunities and unrealized potential placing women and children in an endless circle of poverty that can continue generation to generations.” Condo noted.
We should intensify our efforts to address inequalities which are still impeding women and girls to enjoy sexual and reproductive health rights, especially whether to decide on having children.” She added.
Last year, figures from the Ministry of Health (MoH) shown that 17,444 teenagers had unwanted pregnancies countrywide, involving many dropouts as consequences.
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