Rwanda: How journalists’ association helps community to fight against Sexual Transmitted Illnesses

By Elias Hakizimana

Currently, media is a tool that is useful to disseminate information between local community and top leaders. Besides, Rwanda’s journalists contribute in full participation of teaching the community how to fight against Sexual Transmitted Illnesses (STIs) through their Association dubbed ‘ABASIRWA’.

ABASIRWA is translated in a local language ‘Abanyamakuru Barwanya Sida mu Rwanda’ or Journalists who fight against HIV/AIDS in Rwanda was established a couple of years ago having main objective to fight against HIV/AIDS by teaching and changing the community bahaviours and mindset towards prevention of this epidemic.

Among their activities, they advocated for female sex workers who struggled to register their children in legal registry as they were forced to first bring their husbands.

The results were seen after a long journey in Burera District at Cyanika Boarder that links Rwanda and Uganda, Rusizi District, and elsewhere.

Testimonies involved female sex workers and leaders decided after then to register every child whose father is not easy to find.

Some of the women in Rubavu district who experience this challenge said they can leave out prostitution when they find another occupation that generates income.

Some of female sex workers with ABASIRWA in Rubavu District.

Jeannette Akimanizanye, the mother of two children is among these women from Nyamyumba sector in Rubavu district who is in ‘Abasangirangendo’ association said that there is nothing else they can do to survive.

Dative Bazubagira, the president of this association of female sex workers said that the prostitution helps them to survive and feed their families as they have no other option.

“When someone has capacity to sell like fruits and vegetables, one can reduce prostitution, but when security officials find you it becomes another problem, so, when we miss an other option to feed our children, we prefer to do prostitution.” Bazubagira said.

Their association is made of 60 members and many of them are women who have children.

These women are currently supported by Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization to change mindset and access to healthcare services through Aids Health Care Foundation (AHF)-Rwanda interventions.

They also said that they know HIV/AIDS and they have taken decisions to prevent it among them by being tested, because they have Kigufi health centre where they take ARV drugs and condoms.

Truck drivers, fishers and Congolese men are among the clients of these women who also make them pregnant. 

ABASIRWA have committed to continue raising advocacy in prevention of sexual transmitted illnesses and help the community especially women to change the mindset that prostitution is not the only option to find daily survival.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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