22 October 2012

Rwanda: MPs Call for End of Prostitution

Photo: A. Mirza/Irin
A sex worker (file photo).

Members of Parliament have called upon government leaders in their respective institutions and Rwandans in general to sensitize sex workers about leaving the trade.

The MPs led by Senate President, Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo made the remarks on Friday during a validation meeting on strategies to accelerate response to HIV in the country.

Dr Ntawukuriryayo cited the number of sex workers that have made positive strides after leaving prostitution after various programs and campaigns against trade.

"I want to remind everyone here present that women and girls who are in the sex business are sisters, relatives, colleagues and friends."

"I want to remind everyone here present that women and girls who are in the sex business are sisters, relatives, colleagues and friends and it's in this regard that I urge you to come up with strategies and mechanisms which will enable them to leave evil business because they are capable of contributing to the country's socio-economic transformation," Dr Ntawukuriryayo said.

His call was echoed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Family promotion, Julienne Munyaneze who said there is a need for all Rwandans to promote traditional values in our respective families because this is a key factor which will stop young girls from joining prostitution but rather engage in developmental activities.

"This will enable the country to achieve sustainable development in the nearby future," she said.

A recent survey by Rwandan Parliamentarian's Network on Population and Development (RPRPD), which was aimed at examining the pressing needs of sex workers for improved parliamentary advocacy found out that poverty is the prime factor that leads women and young girls into prostitution. Other factors include peer influence, illiteracy, finding means to care for their children and dropping out of school.

"The challenge of prostitution is a cross-cutting challenge which needs every one's intervention and participation and it's upon this reason that I encourage every Rwandans to take part addressing this problem," MP Juliene Uwacu, from the RPRPD said.

She also said that the sex workers they interviewed wanted the government to come up with programs that can help them to acquire vocational and entrepreneurial skills so that they can start their own small-scale businesses.

Article 225 of the Penal Code of Rwanda stipulates that any person who engages in prostitution shall be liable to either imprisonment of for six months to three years or a fine between Frw 50,000 and 500,000 or both.

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