Student Arrested For Dumping Baby In Dustbin On Campus

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Following the arrest of a student whose baby was found dead in a dustbin, university staff of the University of Rwanda’s college of arts and social sciences have been trying to restore calm on the campus.

The baby was found near the women’s hostel on 1 December and has prompted an immediate investigation by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, which secured the area and blocked access in and out of the hostel.

Abortion is illegal in Rwanda and, if found guilty, a woman may face imprisonment for one to three years or a fine of RWF50,000 (US$40) to RWF200,000.

According to Ignatius Kabagambe, spokesperson for the University of Rwanda, preliminary investigations revealed that the young woman allegedly tried to abort the baby.

According to sources, the 19-year-old is receiving treatment at the University Teaching Hospital of Butare, as well as counselling.

Kabagambe called for calm. He said that the pregnancy appeared to have been a burden to the student, but that the public should not, through their actions and condemnation, further add to her burden.

He noted that the University of Rwanda remained focused on providing the safest possible environment for its students and staff, bearing in mind the vulnerability of young women.

“The suspect is one of thousands of vulnerable girls. Therefore, let every action to be taken, every word to be said, be uplifting, rather than potentially traumatising …” he urged.

Sexual health reproduction awareness

Experts in sexual and reproductive health and rights have called for the sensitive handling of abortion cases and to ensure that sexual reproductive and health rights are promoted.

Sylvie Nsanga, a human rights and gender activist, called for investment in sexual reproduction and health rights services because “punitive measures have not been a solution to stop abortion”.

Teenage and student pregnancies in Rwanda are rampant. The number of reported teen pregnancies increased by 23% from 19,701 in 2020 to 23,000 in 2021, according to data from the Ministry For Gender and Family Promotion.

Experts estimate that nearly half (47%) of pregnancies in Rwanda are unwanted, which increases the risk of unsafe abortion and, consequently, maternal mortality and morbidity.

According to the results of a survey conducted in 2020 about the factors associated with the use of emergency contraception among female students at the University of Rwanda, 65% of university students said they did not use any contraception.

The majority of the students (81%) knew what emergency contraception was, but 53% stated it was not accessible, while 65% didn’t know the correct timing and 52% did not plan to use it in the future.

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