Church communities and other organisations have been called upon to do more towards supporting vulnerable young single mothers in the society.
The call was made by Association des Eglise Baptistes au Rwanda (AEBR) under their organisation dubbed ‘TUGUMANE’ that aims at raising awareness about the challenges faced by single young mothers.
TUGUMANE project coordinator, Jacqueline Ntagisanimana, Friday said the project was works to accelerate the acceptance, integration and involvement of young single mothers in society through capacity building and advocacy.
“Based on research done in June last year, AEBR established that there are about 1,190 single mothers in the country. AEBR is providing support to 35 mothers only,” she said.
Ntagisanimana said the findings also indicated that the average young single mother was raped by their bosses or strangers.
“This is the reason why some mothers don’t even know the father of their kid. The other main reason was poverty,” she added.
AEBR legal representative, Rev Dr Corneil Gato Munyamasoko, said the mothers should not be isolated.
“When we empower and raise the self-esteem of these mothers they can also drive change in our local communities towards a greater acceptance of marginalised groups.
“If only in AEBR we identified 1,190 such mothers, this means that the numbers, this means there could be more in other churches,” Munyamasoko added.
He requested the government to collaborate with churches so that they can support all mothers faced with the challenge.
“The government has to sit together with church leaders and see what could be done for the mothers because their children need to be registered, which is difficult for them. So let’s all support them,” he added.
Beatrice Mukasine, an orphan who hails from the Northern Province, said she was raped when she was staying with her aunt. She narrated that she was thrown out of the house because of the resultant pregnancy, the reason she sleeps in church.
“I was raped by a truck driver who was giving me a lift from Bugesera to Kicukiro. I reported the incident to Police after three days and they told me that I was too late. My family members rejected me and later I went to a hospital, where some sympathetic nurses gave me temporary accommodation until I gave birth,” she said.
Emmanuel Safari, the Executive Secretary of a local human rights group, CLADHO, said the problem was widespread among the youth, and that a research they did in 52 sectors indicated that 818 girls gave birth before the age of 18.
“If we had capacity, we would reach out to all sectors. This is a big challenge in our society and we have agreed to cooperate with parents, civil society, leaders and Police in order to fight this problem. So far, we are following up 47 cases in court,” Safari said. CLADHO is an umbrella of human rights organisations in Rwanda.
CSP Rose Muhisoni from Isange one-stop centre said they have establish centres in 28 hospitals, with only three districts left. The centres treat and provide counseling to victims of rape.
“Isange gives the basic treatment to someone who has been raped within 48 hours and provides other medicines to protect one from sexually transmitted diseases. It also teaches people to communicate when rape happens,” Muhisoni said.