As Rwanda joined the rest of the world to mark the International Day of Rural Women, on Tuesday, civil society organisations pointed out that teenage pregnancy and mistreatment of teenage mothers were still threats to the development of rural women.
At the celebrations held at Byeza Cell, Muhazi Sector in Rwamagana District, rights groups called for everybody’s contribution to end the problem.
“We still face challenges. First, is the issue of teen girls who become mothers. They have dropped out of school and they are children with other children,” said Jeanne d’Arc Kanakuze, National Coordinator of Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe.
For Xaverine Uwimana, the National Coordinator of Réseau des Femmes Oeuvrant pour le Development Rural, alcohol abuse and carelessness among parents were still the major reasons for the teen girls to end up victims of sexual violence.
Réseau des Femmes is an organization advocating for the development of rural women.
Recently, they helped 16 dropouts get back in primary, secondary and, technical and vocational schools. It was done in conjunction with the Inshuti z’Umuryango (community child protection volunteers).
Uwimana warned that some parents mistreat their own daughters just because they got pregnant prematurely, instead of being on their side in the hard times.
“There are still challenges, where, for instance, a parent denied their teen medical treatment because she had got an early pregnancy,” she said.
Uwimana reminded that teen mothers should not be forsaken, instead, they should be empowered.
She gave an example of how teenage mothers they brought together and trained have started informal savings groups for themselves, and now they have Rwf2,250,000 on a bank account.
“Today, we have launched the withdrawal of the money, such that they start using it in small businesses, some have opted to start pig farming, others raising rabbits, there are also those who have chosen to establish a charcoal shop,” Uwimana announced.
Uwimana believes that teen mothers should be witnesses, spreading testimonies to young girls across the country about the effects of early pregnancies, as well as providing prevention tips.
Jean Marie Vianney Rurangirwa, a resident of Kigabiro Sector, Rwamagana District, said he had been committing violence against his daughter because she got pregnant.
He also admits that he used to harass his wife so much that she’d spend the night outside the house.
“I thought that I was right to do what I was doing, but I later learned that I was violating her rights,” he said.
“My grandson (the child to his teen daughter) would not get anywhere near me, but now, since I am the one he sees more often, I am called ‘dad’, because he does not know his father and his grandmother (Rurangirwa’s wife) is now called ‘mum’,” he stated.
Rurangirwa warned that the parents are the reason for most trouble children come across, especially teen girls.
“We are the reason for this. We did not reach out to our children and talk to them; we did not take time to take care of them and give them what they needed, when you do not do that, somebody else has got to do it, but they will do it in order to get something in return,” he warned.