The Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) has come out to dispel media reports about women inmates serving sentences over cases of abortion and infanticides.
With reference to a particular article published on online portal, www.cosmopolitan.com, under the title, “Women in Rwanda Are Being Jailed and Shamed for Having Abortions,” last week, a statement released by RCS stated that the information was both misleading and false.
The article, written by Jill Filipovic, a US-based attorney and feminist writer, puts on record a certain Gillian Kane, senior policy advisor at Ipas – a nonprofit organisation that works to increase women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights – and author of the report as saying, “It was the sheer numbers that were striking to us, about 25 per cent [of female inmates] were there for abortion-related crimes. That’s significant.”
However, figures released by RCS show that women inmates convicted of abortion are actually 2.3 per cent as opposed to what the article had published.
“Jill Filipovic alleges that 25 per cent of female inmates imprisoned in Rwanda prisons are convicts of abortion crimes which is totally false. It is regrettable to note that the researcher chose to misinform the public on such a sensitive topic about a nation that is so committed to the wellbeing of all her citizens in all ways,” reads a statement signed by Mary Gahonzire, the deputy commissioner-general of the RCS.
“Much as the researcher acknowledges the contribution/collaboration by RCS, the Rwanda Correctional Service has never dealt with a one Jill Filipovic.”
According to statistics from the correctional service, 83 per cent of the crimes committed by females are related to genocide, while only 2.3 per cent represent women convicted on abortions, leaving 14.8 per cent others under different crimes, including theft, corruption and smuggling.
The statement added that, contrary to what the author alleges, minors in the 2.3 per cent category are only four at the Nyagatare Children Rehabilitation Centre.
“Important to note, these minors were in school and when they reached Nyagatare, they continued with their formal education. Concerning the knowledge of women’s legal rights and access to justice, suspects are given lawyers to represent them in the process of trials,” the statement said.