Rwanda’s Civil Society Organizations working on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) have been urged to increase awareness and conduct adequate advocacy campaigns to inform the community about safe abortion.

Unsafe abortion is defined as a procedure for terminating an unwanted pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking minimal medical standards or both.

The call was made by Stakeholders in health sector of Rwanda this month in Kigali during an extra-ordinary training of CSOs working on SRHR with the aim to strengthen their network in order to build a strong voice.

The training was organized By Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization (IMRO) in collaboration with its partner organizations under the same coalition namely: Rwanda NGOs Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion, Health Development Initiative (HDI) and Great Lakes Initiatives for Human Rights Development (GLIHD).

Dr Anicet Nzabonimpa, Senior Expert in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights urged trained CSOs to first of all understand the SRHR national legal framework while raising awareness to the community.

Dr Anicet Nzabonimpa, Senior Expert in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.

“Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights are the fundamental Human Rights, for the CSOs to perform their awareness and advocacy activities at a higher level, they need to understand the existing laws to be able to explain better what they understand.” Nzabonimpa said.

Izere Mugeni Vedastine, SRHR Coordinator at GLIHD is one of the trained members of CSOs, she applauded the government for all that have been done in the protection and promotion of human rights in Rwanda including health rights.

Even though, some challenges persist; lack of knowledge on SRHR information and services, mind-set of some Rwandans who get explained about the laws and ignore to abide by them due to the culture and faith.

Izere Mugeni Vedastine, SRHR Coordinator at GLIHD.

She said that unsafe abortion is still an issue not only in Rwanda but, worldwide, giving an example of teenage pregnancy that is on the rise.

“When we assess the situation on the field and meet different beneficiaries, they do not have information on SRHR especially young people and some of those who know them use them differently due to the interests they have behind, as a result young adolescent girls become pregnant unwillingly and most of them end up putting their lives at a high risk by carrying out unsafe abortion.” Mugeni noted.

She said that they will manage to get fruitful results once they increase efforts in teaching the law and sharing the information to all the categories of the community including parents, children, youth, as well as teachers, child care givers and faith based organizations in collaboration with other CSOs working in this health sector.

Pursuant to the new constitutional provisions, women including girls below 18 years have a right to terminate a pregnancy before it is 22 weeks old, under certain conditions including: in case the pregnant person is a child, rape cases, incest or in case of forced marriage as well as where the pregnancy is a risk to the health of the woman or the fetus.

Rose Umutesi, Executive Director of Younger Women Mentors Network (YAWMNet) said that lack of information on SRHR among the adolescents will end when CSOs link up efforts.

Rose Umutesi, Executive Director of Younger Women Mentors Network (YAWMNet).

Adolescents do not have information on their body functioning; the culture is also still limiting parents to tell children about sexual and reproductive health, the digitization of information is also spreading myths and facts on social media, and youth rely on it because no one else has taught them in this regard, poverty also accelerates youth to live a life beyond their financial capacity, the combination of these issues hinders the progress.” she said.

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