April 4, 2019

Kagame Pardons 367 Abortion Convicts, But Thousands More Remain

An anti-teenage pregnancy campaign in eastern Rwanda. Such campaigns are a common occurrence as the country grapples with an explosion in teenagers being impregnated

A list of 367 persons currently in jail for the offence of abortion are free with effect from March 3, 2019 – courtesy of an unprecedented presidential pardon.

President Paul Kagame informed a cabinet meeting yesterday that he “has exercised his prerogative of mercy” to set free these people.

The list also includes people were convicted as accomplices in abortion and infanticide such as medical practitioners, parents and friends of victims.

Rwanda has in recent years been positioning itself as one of the most progressive places supporting women rights.

However, some of the strict laws in place such as those curtailing the same rights, have been subjected of heated debates involving campaigners and state officials – especially on social media.

Abortion has been one of them.

Government is currently faced with a major problem of teenage girls being impregnated. The situations is actually running in the thousands – forcing them out of school, in addition to contributing to an exploding population.

In cases where abortion was tried, and the suspects caught, they went to jail.

Some have died as they tried abortion, often done is unsafe environments as they hide from the authorities.

According to a study done in 2015 by a local NGO the Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development (GLIHD), there were 7,300 women in prison over abortion.

This number does not include their accomplices.

The NGO found, from the study done in all Rwanda’s jails, that nearly all the victims were below the age of 25 years.

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