By Elias Hakizimana.
Female sex workers (FSWs) from Gasabo District will be protected against body harassment and other kinds of violence by neighbours and local authorities who sometimes force them to shift from their villages to elsewhere for the reason to be prostitutes.
The move was announced on June 16, 2020 by Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization (IMRO), Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights Development (GLIHD) during an extra-ordinary meeting whose aim was to educate them on how to secure their future while doing Sex as business.
These women who sell sex were educated on safe abortion regal framework, the role of respecting family planning (FP) and various FP methods.
Commenting on current barriers they face, some of them said that they are discriminated and beaten by local night security personnel.
“We do not have any problem with local authorities but ‘Inkeragutabara’/ night security people beat us when they find us on roads dealing with our clients (men), we are happy to get a voice today to report any kind of violence,” said Betty X, a sex worker from Nyarutarama Sector.
“What is most important for me from these discussions is that I will manage to reduce risks on my health. Some sex workers get pregnant and HIV/AIDS because they cannot afford condoms, we are happy as we will have condom kiosks in our locations.” She added.
Francine Fx, said that sometimes female sex workers can do unprotected sex because their clients (men) have paid little money and without extra coins to buy condoms.
“A man can pay Rwf 1000 and when you remove some coins to buy condoms you remain with nothing, so, you can decide to let him do unprotected sex, which results in having unwanted pregnancy and/or HIV/AIDS. I hope that the condom kiosks will help us a lot.” Francine noted.
Uwamariya Chantal said that neighbours used to harass their children saying they are children of sex workers. “People used to tell us we are prostitutes and they harass our children. We could not report that as we thought we do not have rights to do so. We are happy for pieces of advice we get from this meeting,” she said.
Amon MUTEGAYA, project coordinator at GLIHD shared them what laws says on prostitute. “Our role is to educate them on how to make a safe abortion. We educate them on procedures to abort by always respecting laws.” He said.
Most cases of abortions involve those under the age of 25, this indicates that most of these girls go for unsafe abortion which exposes them to life threatening risks including death.
Before 2012, abortion was illegal in Rwanda, and those who terminated pregnancies illegally were punished.
A study conducted in 2012 by Health Development Initiative (HDI) estimated that as of 2009, 14 abortions occurred per 100 live births.
The new penal code of 2018 provides for specific circumstances under which abortion is legally permissible, for example in cases of rape, forced marriage, incest, or instances where the pregnancy poses health risks to the mother or unborn child.
Jules Mugisha, Programs Manager at Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization said that they will continue helping female sex workers countrywide and advocate them to be protected against stigma and discrimination.
“We will continue educating them on sexual and reproductive health and how to do safe abortion,” Mugisha said.