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Youth leading change and choice in Rwanda

Youth leading change and choice in Rwanda

IPPF clinician giving a talk on reproductive health

"My name is Anne. I am 20 years old. I have been in Karubanda prison since 2007 for committing abortion.

I was in the 5th year of my secondary education when a teacher at my school started dating me. I needed school materials and since I could not afford them, I allowed sexual intercourse with this teacher. With limited knowledge of contraceptive use, I got pregnant and had to drop out of school since it is against school regulations.

I decided to have an abortion and my elder brother out of fear reported me to the police. I am supposed to serve a period of 9 years of which I have so far completed 3 years.

I have pleaded to the government to reduce my sentence, it is too harsh and unfair. I have lost hope and this is the end of my life."

Rwanda's highly restrictive abortion laws have a terrible impact on women. In 2010 one prison alone contained 21 out of 114 women for having had an illegal abortion.

IPPF's Youth Action Movement (YAM) in Rwanda led a successful advocacy campaign with IPPF's Rwandan Member Association (The Association Rwandaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial). Together they reformed Rwanda's restrictive abortion legislation. 

They were supported by IPPF's Member Association in the Netherlands, Rutgers WPF and the Safe Abortion Action Fund. 

YAM collected personal stories from hospitals and prisons. They shared these in their outreach to young people at universities, policy makers, politicians, and held workshops with civil society. 

These partnerships and petitions led to the revision of the abortion law. Since June 2012 abortion is permitted in order to save the life of the woman or to protect her health, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or forced marriage.