When cultural stereotypes affect single mothers

In the Rwandan culture children are so special, that they are considered gifts from God.  Ancient traditions dictated that having many children was prestigious. However today, couples bear a few children because of their limited resources.

In the Rwandan culture children are so special, that they are considered gifts from God.  Ancient traditions dictated that having many children was prestigious. However today, couples bear a few children because of their limited resources.

In the earlier times, both the parents and the community raised children. As much as this was great, there were a few setbacks when it came to the treatment that young women faced when they conceived before marriage. They were harshly banned from the community or village, sometimes shipped off to isolated islands and left to fend for themselves, and worse still society’s pressures forced many to commit suicide as they had no one or place to go to.

What was detrimental was that these women were not allowed to reveal the names of the men who impregnated them—even when faced with punishment.

Today, several Rwandans are not open about the idea of being a single mother or father. This could explain the rush to get married when couples discover that they are expecting. In fact every time a young man and woman approach their parents and tell them they are getting married when they least expected it, the first question they always ask, “Is she pregnant?”

Either way if the couple is not ready for matrimony a woman will give birth and won’t be punished like it was long ago, but will most likely be the center of cheap talk for people who have nothing productive to do with their time—the perpetual gossipers.

However, times have changed and having a child when not married is purely the business of individuals. Society’s grip on this ‘sensitive’ is weakening—the more reason for people to stop blaming children born out of wedlock. Since children are valued in the Rwandan culture, its only right that they are protected by those who care for them.

On whether, single parents should be ridiculed and punished by the mean judgment of culture, is a question of time and individual mindsets. 

 

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