Rwanda: Rape survivors jailed for receiving abortions despite new law

| October 5, 2015

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Almost a quarter of the women in several Rwandan jails are behind bars for illegal abortions. Advocacy groups say many are rape survivors who should be able to get safe abortions under Rwandan law.

Rwanda’s 2012 penal code allows abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape, incest, and forced marriage, or when the health of the woman or foetus is at risk. The law further stipulates that a judge’s approval is required for an abortion.

Tom Mulisa is Executive Director of the Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development. He says: “The young and the poor end up in jail because most of the young girls had little knowledge about contraceptives … [and were unable] to get a lawyer because they were not able to pay.”

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Photo: A Rwandan woman carries an umbrella for shade at Mulindi, about 60 km (40 miles) north of the capital Kigali, August 5, 2010. Credit:  REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly