Five years ago, Janvière Uwimana (not real name) from Nyaruguru district traveled to Kigali to pay a visit to her relatives and this was not the first time. She was 17 years old then.
One fateful morning, the family sent her for some shopping at an adjacent kiosk when a man called her while on her way back.
She politely went to him expecting a message from someone she thought, deserved respect.
“I couldn’t have any suspicion whatsoever. He was a man every child would expect to rather get protection from. I did not hesitate to go meet him,” she said.
When she met him, the message was ” I want us to have some chat.”
Uwimana told the stranger who had yet to even present himself fairly, that she did not have time because the family was expecting her back.
The stranger who claimed to be a university student asked Uwimana to share her phone number, which she did.
At the end of her journey in Kigali, the teenager who was in Senior two returned home, but the man started calling her over and over again until he made a request: “Please come to check on me when you come back to Kigali .”
Uwimana returned to Kigali the following holiday and she once told the host family “please give me permission to go check on a friend.”
Without minding details of the kind of “friend” that was, the family released Uwimana and guess what, the man defiled her.
The teenager got pregnant and managed to hide it for six months.
“I gave birth after senior two and called it quit. My dream to become a policewoman vanished; in fact, I like the safety of people and their wealth, thus my dream to be a policewoman but it won’t come true,” said Uwimana.
“My colleagues will write Senior Six exam next year. I regret my future that was trashed.”
After giving birth, Uwimana is struggling alone to raise the child.
“I did not get any support from my defiler-the only thing he told me was: I am going into the military to win bread for the child. Ever since I don’t have his whereabouts, and worse, I don’t know his name,” she said.
“From the time I gave birth, my family started considering me a mature woman/a mother, rather than a child; I struggled to raise my child, to get basics for my life ever since.”
Uwimana regrets not having revealed to the host family the kind of friend she was going to “check on.”
“They would probably have prevented me from going or could they give someone to accompany me,” she said.
“My call to the youth is to always share information about their life and people they meet. This would prevent them from experiencing a potential danger.”
Uwimana is only a case among many. Defilement and gender-based violence in general, have become subject to debate in Rwanda. Gender activists have called for severe punishment against Gender-Based Violence(GBV) where defilement is most worrisome.