“They are a shame to the community”; this is just one of the many lines that describes how pregnant teenagers and teen mothers experience stigma. Society puts a lot of the blame on the girl, most times leaving them helpless and depressed. We have seen and heard about so many young mothers taking drastic decisions because they couldn’t handle the criticism, and in a discussion with Felix Dushimimana, an activist and counsellor, he shares a story of a teen mother he once talked to who was going through a difficult time, which later led her to take her own life. “I remember there was a time my colleague connected me to a young girl from Musanze who was pregnant, to talk and counsel, when I called her she seemed low on the phone and sad, I could tell but I wasn’t going to immediately jump on the question, so I kept it normal and conducted a friendly conversation. She was raped and got pregnant at a young age, her family constantly shamed her for having a child, she was the daily topic in the neighbourhood and on top of all that, her rapist was never jailed, he kept living in the same neighbourhood with her.” After one day of talking to her on the phone, Dushimimana planned to go visit her and talk to her some more, but then the evening before the visit, after he got home from work and was watching the news, he saw that a young girl had committed suicide in Muhanga, but he wasn’t aware it was the same girl he had spoken to. Until his colleague called him and told him. Dushimimana spent days blaming himself for that and even went to Muhanga to analyse what could have possibly led her to that, which he later found out was rejection from society and the justice she never got. For many young mothers, it is very hard to stand the shame, criticism, and rejection. According to Dushimimana, society needs to learn that it is not a crime to get pregnant and understand that counselling is not shaming someone. “Our society has a false view on how to correct mistakes, punishing is not scratching the wound even more but it should be letting it heal slowly until it’s a scar, if you decide to reject a teen mother because she got pregnant and shame her, you are only throwing her in a deeper hole, rather than helping her out. Yes these children have made mistakes but mistakes should be corrected by teaching not by shaming and rejecting, if not it will end in a very sad way,” he says. Delphine Umugwizawase, a midwife at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) who has conducted different programmes in schools and at home about sexual reproductive health, says that sometimes society needs to check itself before bashing a teen mother. “Teen mothers go through a lot during that period, their body changes due to not being ready to handle, they are psychologically affected and their future also gets blurry. So when society bashes the mother instead of understanding her, counselling and helping her overcome what happened, it only puts the mother in darkness; society needs to first understand that they are humans, they make mistakes, but so does everybody else. Sometimes unwanted pregnancies come from society due to many reasons. “If a man rapes a girl and gets her pregnant then society led to her pregnancy, so many young girls are practicing prostitution and others are finding ways to survive by allowing grown men to sleep with them because there is lack of employment, and that also is a reason, some young girls will end up getting pregnant because they had no knowledge on sexual reproductive health because their parents didn’t talk about it and explain more,” she adds. According to her, society should educate itself and kill the notion that when a girl gives birth at a young age with no husband it is a crime. Also, society should check itself and correct its own mistakes before correcting young mothers, she adds that teen mothers need strong support so that they don’t feel let down by those who are supposed to be there for them and help them build their future.