Members of Rwandan Parliamentarians Network on Population and Development (RPRPD) on Saturday toured various schools countrywide to discuss the issue of unwanted pregnancies linked to pre-marital sex among teenagers.
The move follows findings of the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (RDHS) 2014-15, that 7 per cent of women aged 15-19 have begun bearing children.
The survey found that teenagers who are not educated and those in the lowest wealth quintile tended to start childbearing earlier than other teenagers.
Children born to very young mothers are at increased risk of sickness and death while their mothers are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes and are more constrained in their ability to pursue educational opportunities than young women who delay childbearing.
MP Jacqueline Mukakanyamugenge, who visited Huye District, urged female students to guard against sugar daddies who want to lure them into sex.
She was speaking to students and teachers in Tumba and Mukura sectors.
“A girl should first complete their education, and then get married and give birth to a child who has a responsible father. A child should be taken care of by two parents, a father and mother, but when they are born through unplanned pregnancies, one parent is likely to be the one looking after the baby. Giving birth to a child who will not be assured of a good life is something no one wants,” she said.
Urging parents and adult members of the community to play an active role in reducing teenage pregnancies, she called for a new approach.
“We are requesting all parents, especially men, to take all children as their own. If anyone finds a school girl being lured by men with lifts and jewelry they should do something,” she said.
Urging parents to educate their children about reproductive issues Mukakanyamugenge said, “If a girl gets knowledgeable about the changes in her body and the dangers of unplanned pregnancies they will make better choices. We consider that one of the strategies to eliminate unplanned pregnancies,” she said.
Vestine Nyiransabimana, a senior six student at Groupe Scolaire Cyarwa in Tumba Sector, said young girls should avoid anything that can tempt them into having unsafe sex.
“When an elderly person comes and tempts you, you might not only get pregnant, but you might end up failing in school. You can also fall victim to sexually transmitted diseases and other problems unknowingly. Girls should make better choices and not get caught up in material things,” she urged.
MPs also met with community health workers and village leaders in Mukura Sector with whom they discussed hygiene and fighting malnutrition.