Food and water are the most basic needs for human survival. Studies have shown that a fully grown human being can only go up to three weeks without food but only if they are drinking water. Without water, it is hard for a person to last that long because water makes up sixty percent of the human body.
Of course, it is even more dangerous for a child to go without food and water. Children’s lives are fragile. Their immune system is put at risk and they are likely to become malnourished or even die. That is why the right to food and drink is particularly protected in article 153 of the Penal Code.
Article 153 paragraph one of the Penal Code states: “Any person who intentionally starves or denies drink to a person for whom is responsible without any intention of causing death but which starvation or denial of drink causes death, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of more than five (5) years to seven (7) years.”
And if the food or drink is denied with the intention of causing death and indeed results in death, the perpetrator is liable to life imprisonment. This is according to article 153 paragraph two of the Penal Code.
However, having the right to food and drink does not mean that if your parents won’t buy you soda or processed foods, then they are breaking the law. It is their responsibility to give you healthy food and to provide for you within their means.
Of course, as a child you need more than food and water to grow into a healthy and productive adult. For example, you need medical treatment when you are sick. Article 226 therefore puts a penalty for those parents who refuse to provide medical treatment and any other kind of kind even though they are able to.
Paragraph one of article 226 of the Penal Code states: “Any person with legal responsibility of a child who refuses him/her medical treatment shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of at least two (2) months but less than six (6) months and a fine of fifty thousand (50,000) to three hundred thousand (300,000) Rwandan francs.”
Paragraph two of article 226 of the Penal Code puts emphasis one the fact that even children with disability deserve care, protection, and drink. Parents or guardians who fail to do this receive the same punishment as mentioned in paragraph one of article 226.