Govt moves to reprimand absentee fathers

The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) will hold accountable men who fail to support women they impregnate, especially teenagers.

The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion Esperance Nyirasafari said that the move is in response to a tendency by men to impregnate teenagers and fail to support them.

The minister made the remarks at a press conference on Friday.

She said that investigations will be conducted to determine the men responsible for the pregnancies among young girls and compel them to support their children.

The intervention by the government follows reports that over 17,000 girls between 16 and 19 years had unwanted pregnancies in 2016.

“We cannot allow a situation where an impregnated girl bears the hardship when looking after the baby while the one responsible for the pregnancy is reluctant to support. Even if that man might not have financial capacity, his family and the family of the girl must work together to provide for the baby,” the minister said.

She added that the assessment will be carried out across the country by asking each impregnated girl to reveal the man responsible before scientific tests are carried out.

“Soon we will have technology to get scientific evidence to determine who is responsible for the pregnancies,” she said.

Officials say that some children from unwanted pregnancies are abandoned by their mothers are left under the care of other people including relatives as they go out to seek a livelihood. This they say often results in poor living conditions of the children.

Explaining the extent of the problem, Nyirasafari said that when young girls are impregnated, they often drop out of school and their children are often malnourished due to poor feeding and could end up as street children.

“It is better when a child is registered as one with two parents. For men that are reluctant to take responsibility, we will carry out scientific tests to be sure who the father is. It should be understood that birth registration is not only for couples who are legally married,” she said

She added that once tests have been carried out the runaway fathers will be named in public to serve as a lesson for the rest of the community.

“A man who impregnates a young girl must be held accountable and use some of his property to support the new born child. We have to launch an operation in conjunction with police and prosecution to pursue those men,” she said.

She explained that an agreement has already been made with Local government Ministry to also allocate social protection support such as one-cow-per-family programme, among others to vulnerable teenage mothers.

The ministry says One Stop Centres have been increased from 28 to 43 to provide first aid to those who are violated as well as expectant teenagers.

Minister Nyirasafari said that statistics from prosecution show that between 2014 and 2015 there were 1,879 cases of sexually violated children with 1,864 of them handled. 1,917 cases were received between 2015 and 2016.

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