November 24, 2019

Eastern Province With Highest Underage Pregnancies Adopts Radical Measure

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Eastern Province Governor Fred Mufurukye is taking new steps to protect girls in his region

Anyone seeking to work in the 7 districts making up the Eastern Province will be required to make a written commitment never to go after teenage girls, a new directive stipulate.

The directive concerns government entities operating in the province, but will also be extended to the private sector and NGOs.

The new development is part of a raft of new measures being advanced by Eastern Province Governor Fred Mufurukye in an attempt to halt the exploding underage pregnancies.

Between 2016 and 2018, some 55,048 girls below 18 years were impregnated in the whole country. However, 19,838 girls are from Eastern Province alone – making it most affected. Nyagatare district, from among the 30 districts nationally, has the highest figure.

Barely a week goes by without a news report of a teacher or medical official or businessman being found with a teenage girl in his house.

Three years ago, several officials and local businessmen were arrested in Nyagatare district after increased concerns among residents that the suspects had been running house turned into spot for hosting girls.

Governor Mufurukye made the announcement of his new radical measures at a forum organised by First Lady Jeannette Kagame’s Imbuto Foundation in Nyagatare district on November 20.

“You find some of these people when they get work here….instead of using their earnings to develop themselves, they spend it on luring our children into sex,” said Mufurukye, as reported by Kigali Today, a local online publication.

“It was necessary that we adopt new measures, including requiring [those getting employed in this region] to make written commitment. Even the NGOs will have to ensure they are not causing problems.”

The Eastern Province, part of it neighbouring Uganda, is the largest of Rwanda’s five provinces. It is also the most populous. However, it is very sparsely populated.

The Governors of provinces, except Kigali City whose Mayor is elected, are all appointed by the Head of State.

The eastern province includes districts: Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Rwamagana, Kayonza, Ngoma, Kirehe and Bugesera.

Before the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, much of the region was not inhabited – with a large portion reserved for the Akagera national park.

After 1994, with return of Rwandans from Uganda and Tanzania who had large herds of cattle, most settled in eastern region. Over the years, people have also relocated from other regions to east for land and work.

Governor Mufurukye did not give details as what will happen to officials who will be found to have gone against the written commitment to protect girls, not to take advantage of them. Neither did he specify the contents of the document that will be signed.

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