Teens impregnated during Covid-19 period yet to get justice

By Elias HAKIZIMANA

Many girls across the country have been made teen mothers during the Covid-19 period as a result of closing schools to curb the pandemic with defilers still at large.

The now young mothers were lured into sexual activities with promises of money and other materials since many families were struggling financially and the girls were redundant at home with no school.

As if defiling these girls was not bad enough, there has not been any legal action against many perpetrators with many disappearing or victims keeping silent as well as reluctance from local leaders.

Beata Uwimana (names have been changed to protect victims-Ed) was impregnated at the age of 17 last year when the country was severely hit by coronavirus.

The young girl now has a newborn baby and struggling to make ends meet through strict measures put in place to curb the virus including partial lockdowns in Rubavu district where she stays alone.

The teen mother told Intego Newspaper that she can’t dare take her defiler to court because she still expects some support from him even though there is none at the moment.

“I can’t take him to court or to any authority because I still have hope that he will give me some support. Now it is a problem to find money to meet my daily needs. He   only gave me Rwf3,000 since the child was born and I pray he starts taking care of us” Beata said.

Alone and jobless, she now survives through handouts and donations from friends as well as doing menial jobs in her neighborhood with little hope of going back to school.

According to Francis Byaruhanga, a lawyer and journalist, impregnated teenagers should report the men who impregnated them in order to get judicial remedies and break cultural barriers of not reporting such cases.

“They should report those cases otherwise the victims are the ones with interests to report their violence before any other party.” he adds.

“If such cases are not reported, they might cause financial burden to the teen mothers to raise children alone.” Byaruhanga noted.

Victims also claim that perpetrators evade justice by complicating matters when they tell the young mothers that they should go for a DNA test to prove paternity which is almost impossible.

However, last year, members of the Lower chamber of Parliament expressed concern over the high cost of DNA tests at the Kigali-based National Forensic Laboratory, urging the Government to consider ways to bring it down.

The National Forensic Laboratory unveiled in 2018 carries out DNA tests at the cost of Rwf270,000, a price that is nearly half what it would cost to conduct one test abroad.

Fanny Nyiratabaro, (names have been changed to protect victims-Ed) another victim from Kigabiro sector, Rwamagana district in Eastern Province was impregnated at 17 years old when she was in senior six the man who impregnated her disappeared and the young girl is struggling meet motherly duties.

“It is very difficult but i will raise my child despite being alone without his father during this period of COVID-19. I would advise my peers to avoid being lured with promises which puts them dangers.

Prepetua Mukarugyema’s (names have been changed to protect victims-Ed) daughter and grandchild were impregnated at 16 and 17 years old. This grandmother who also lives in Rwamagana district helps both teen mothers to cope with a tough life of early motherhood.

She said that the perpetrators disappeared after impregnating these girls. She said that it is not easy to support these children especially during these COVID-19 times because they do not have any other support.

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