Young activists call for new approach in fight against teen pregnancies

Part of the audience that attended the meeting of teen mother hood (All photos by Craish Bahizi)

The number of teen mothers in the country has been on the increase since 2016.

For instance, between January and August this year, more than 1200 babies born from teen mothers, were registered just in Gatsibo District.

During the same period, Gakenke district had the number double to 800 from the same period last year.

Despite this, only a few of the culpable fathers have been brought to book.

Aline Mumarashavu (L), a teen mother gives out her testmony. Craish Bahizi

The rest have simply disappeared, meaning that the young mothers will remain alone, while in most cases, even chastised by their families.

This is what inspired an initiative by young people called ‘We Got Your Back (WGYB)’ to not only bring to light the plight of these teen mothers, but also seek a solution to this scourge.

On September 25, these youth held a meeting at the University of Rwanda, Remera Campus bringing together different partners to collectively look at what can be done, especially by having men at the forefront of the fight against teenage pregnancies.

“Young females have been the focus for campaigns against teen pregnancies for a very long time. This is a timely initiative to change the theater,” Shafiga Murebebwayire, the national coordinator of Isange One Stop Centre, where defilement crimes are processed in Rwanda Investigation Bureau.

Murebwayire explained that the culprits are fathers, uncles, boyfriends and other male “sexual predators”.

“All the numbers we see are those of teen mothers. We never see numbers of the fathers, the perpetrators, the defilers,” she said, adding that it is time to flip “the coin”.

(R-L) Fawe Mentor Lydia Busingye, Girls Leader Forum Rosette Nkundamfura, Peace Revolution, Emmanuel Dushimimana, Nyaminga Ushoboye, and Grace Uwizeye during the meeting .

Lydia Businge, a mentor with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) called for a special focus on boys when it comes to reproductive health education both in schools and families.

During the discussion, she shared how she was married off by her parents at a tender age of 13.

She hooked the audience with her horrid experience of failed suicides and impeccable rebound - which painted a realistic yet stirring portrait of poignant teen motherhood.

Aline Mumarashavu, who is now 19 and already a teen mother was meant to give her testimony but had to drop the microphone after less than a minute, having failed to compose herself to be able to recount her experience.

When The New Times caught up with her for a brief interview said she could not continue with her testimony because she was suddenly unsure of how the audience would think of her.

She said she got pregnant when she was just 16 when a man lured her into sex and got her pregnant.

And despite knowing the person who did this to her, she could get herself to take him to authorities, so she had to suffer through the rigours of being a teen mother on her own.

Fawe Mentor Lydia Busingye makes a point. 

Asked about her opinion about joining the fight against teen pregnancies, she casts a snigger.

“It is grim. They are the ones who lure them (teen girls).”

She believes that a “steadfast no”, to sex advances by men will go a long way in combatting teen pregnancies and not leave room for misinterpretation by the aggressor.

Anastase Ndagijimana, the founder and president of WGYB believes men’s taking the fight against teen pregnancies can turn victims into victors.

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