KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: The right to protection from defilement

As a person below the age of eighteen, you are by law considered as a child. Because of that, it is illegal to be engaged in any activity that has a negative effect on your wellbeing and growth. That is why children are not allowed to drop out of school. That is why children are not allowed to participate in war. It is for the same reason that children cannot lawfully consent to sex.

As a person below the age of eighteen, you are by law considered as a child. Because of that, it is illegal to be engaged in any activity that has a negative effect on your wellbeing and growth. That is why children are not allowed to drop out of school. That is why children are not allowed to participate in war. It is for the same reason that children cannot lawfully consent to sex.

A person who has sex with a child is considered to have committed the crime of defilement. Article 190 of the Penal Code defines defilement as “any sexual intercourse or any sexual act with a child regardless of the form or means used.”

 

Simply put, it does not matter if someone forces you to have sex with them or entices you with gifts or convinces you with sweet words. That person will have committed the crime of defilement.

 

The penalty for defilement defers from the circumstance under which it was committed and the result of the defilement.  That is why Article 191 of the Penal Code of Rwanda says that a person who commits child defilement “shall be liable to life imprisonment with special provisions.”

 

For example, article 192 subscribes a special punishment if defilement is committed by a parent or guardian, a representative of the religious authority, a security officer, a medical officer, a teacher, or a trainee. Such a person is liable to life imprisonment and a fine of one hundred thousand (100,000) to five hundred thousand (500,000) Rwandan francs.

If a child dies or gets an incurable disease as a result of defilement, the culprit is imprisoned for life and pays a fine of five hundred thousand (500,000) to one million (1,000,000) Rwandan francs. AIDS is an example of an incurable disease that a child can get from being defiled.

Another form of defilement is living with a child as husband or wife. Already, it is unlawful to marry someone who is below the age of twenty-one because according to article 168 of law no. 2/2016 of 28/08/2016 the law governing persons and family, the minimum legal age for marriage in Rwanda is twenty-one.

Article 194 of the Penal Code of Rwanda says that a person who lives together with a child as husband and wife shall receive the same punishment as someone who defiled a child. Life in prison.

Punishment is not only for those who commit child defilement but even those who participate in it. According to article 195 of the Penal Code of Rwanda, “Any person who plays a role in early or forced marriage of a minor  shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to two (2) years and a fine of one hundred thousand (100,000) to three hundred thousand (300,000) Rwandan francs.”

By now, it’s pretty clear that the law is strict on defilement. That is a good thing because any person who convinces or coerces a child into sex only wishes to harm them. Do not be afraid to report such people to the police.

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