What Rwandans think about govt’s move to lift restrictions on teens’ access to contraceptives

The government is planning to allow teenagers to easily access contraception as part of efforts to end rampant teenage pregnancies. Official statistics show that Rwanda registered 17,000 teenage pregnancies in 2016.

The New Times’ Frederic Byumvuhore talked to a section of individuals to gather their views on the move by the government to lift restrictions on access to contraceptives for youths aged below 18 years.

Antoinette Gwiza, secondary school graduate

I have doubts about the effectiveness of this move. I fear that more teenagers will start engaging in sexual intercourse at a young age.

Many teens fear to get pregnant, so if there is protection against pregnancy this will push them to have unprotected sex.

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Jean-Léonard Sekanyange, chairperson of the civil society platform

“Family planning methods were designed for married couples, not teenagers. They are the only people to use these methods. In order to reduce unwanted pregnancies among teenagers, other measures can be taken instead of allowing teens to have access to family planning tools. They can be encouraged to abstain from indulging in sexual intercourse.

“Cases of indiscipline among teenagers might rise. Parents, and teachers will no longer warn the teens about sexual intercourses. The best alternative is to raise awareness about the dangers involved.”

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Assoumpta Muganwa, project management specialist

“Teenagers should not be involved in family planning methods since they have not yet started their families. But since they engage in sexual intercourse, which leads to unwanted births, the Government can go ahead and draft the law but with more emphasis on abstinence because it is what suits Rwandan teenagers. Also, the focus should not be put on girls alone but also men who impregnate those teenagers.”

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Jean-Bosco Habineza, from Gisagara District

Contraceptives will help the youth to control unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Of course, it sounds odd to Rwandans due to cultural values but based on the rate of unwanted pregnancies among teenagers, giving them access to contraceptives is more beneficial than sticking to the cultural values and traditions.

Old habits die hard but sticking to them can cause more harm.

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Gisèle Gigi Igihozo, sales and marketing agent at Munyax Eco

I am against the idea. I can’t see the solution in accessing the methods. I believe that once the teenagers have full access to the family planning methods, they are likely to encounter many more consequences than unwanted pregnancies. They will engage in sexual intercourses fearlessly with the risks to contract STDs. For instance, if a fifteen -year old girl is given access to contraceptives, it may cause some complications once she becomes a mother.

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Rémy Niyingize, the in-charge of public relations at Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority

It is the right decision. The youth have failed to abstain from unprotected sex, which is demonstrated by the increase in teen pregnancies. And let’s not forget that the youth are the future of the country. It is hence better to allow them access to methods of protecting themselves.

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Dieudonné Mbonigaba, from Gasabo District

Allowing teenagers to access family planning methods means promoting sexual immorality, which is a sin.  More emphasis should be put on teaching and sensitising teenagers in their families.

If some married couples have failed to embrace family planning practices, how is the Government sure that this will be the solution to unwanted pregnancies?

Government should instead put efforts in severely punishing those responsible for teen pregnancies.