Please allow me to extend my shock to you over the article that appeared in your newspaper yesterday with a title, “Parliament may decriminalise prostitution”.
I was horrified to read that the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, had said, that Parliament could revisit a law banning prostitution, which comes days after the UNAIDS Regional Director – Eastern and Southern Africa, Prof Sheila Tlou, requested for the law to be looked into.
I write this from two points of view. The first one is purely cultural. As a Rwandan, I feel that it is very shocking that our Members of Parliament can even consider this. Prostitution is unheard of in our culture, in fact, for someone to call your wife, daughter or even a friend a prostitute is one of the worst insults one can encounter in Rwanda.
Seeing young women and girls standing around the Kigali Business Centre (KBC) trying to hawk their bodies to the highest bidder is something that can make our forefathers cringe in their graves. It is simply a no, no in our culture.
My second point of view is the spread of HIV/AIDS. Sir, by mentioning this, I would like to emphasise the fact that not all prostitutes are HIV positive. However, by decriminalizing prostitution, and considering the rate of unemployment in this country, we are at the risk of encouraging other young girls to join this trade which may seem the next best option in times of great financial need, thus putting them at a high risk of getting infected and thus infecting others.
In a world that is moving very fast, thanks to the internet and the advancement of technology, we will find ourselves in the midst of a crisis when even young men will start exchanging their bodies for some cash, just as it is done in more developed countries.
I would like to request the Ministry that is directly concerned with this issue to intervene and help us put an end to these efforts to decriminalise prostitution.
If we indeed go ahead and decriminalise something that has been a crime for centuries, we will be burdening our children with something that will be too heavy for them to handle in future.
Michael. D. Murenzi