April 20, 2024

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Rwanda: The Controversial Debate: Should Teenagers Face Stricter Abortion Law?

By Isabella Iradukunda Elisabeth

Starting from November 2022, the Réseau des Femmes Œuvrant pour le Développement Rural (Réseau des Femmes), in collaboration with AMIE CANADA and with the support of Affaires Mondiales Canada, is carrying out a 5-year project on Reproductive Health called “Santé et Droits Sexuels et Reproductifs au Rwanda” (SDSR-Rwanda). As part of this project, the organization has analyzed the laws regarding abortion for teenagers with the assistance of a lawyer. Through this analysis, it has been identified that there are obstacles that need to be removed.

The leader of the organization, Reseau des Femmes, asserts that one of the major hurdles confronting young people is the access to reproductive health information and services. Additionally, there are certain provisions within the abortion law that pose difficulties for teenagers, as they are mandated to be accompanied by their parents when seeking these services.

Xaveline Uwimana, the Legal Representative of Réseau des Femmes Oeuvrant pour le Développement Rural, stated, “We are advocating for changes in laws related to reproductive health. Our aim is to address certain provisions that pose obstacles.”

The provision in the directive that requires a child seeking family planning services and abortion for a child victim to be accompanied by the parent remains an obstacle.

She continues by stating that the Advocacy they seek as Reseau des Femmes is to prevent gender-based violence. They will accomplish this by educating parents on what they should educate their children and by educating the youth on reproductive health. This way, they will be aware of the existence of drugs that can protect them from contracting sexually transmitted diseases and preventing early pregnancies.

Legal expert Rose Mukantabana argues that the abortion law poses a hindrance by requiring the mother to accompany the child for the procedure due to the secretive nature of the sexual intercourse.

Rose said, “With reference to Article 126 of the abortion law, if a pregnant minor is accompanied by her mother or another person with parental authority, it becomes a hindrance.”

In addition to the obstacles they claim exist in the abortion service and the fact that it is provided in a hospital, they desire for it to be available at a health center for easier access, allowing individuals to conveniently seek the service rather than resorting to illegal means.

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