Girls and women who have indulged in various petty crimes such as drug abuse will, for the first time, have a centre where they will be rehabilitated before they can be reunited with their families and reintegrated in their communities.
The construction of the centre, which will cost about Rwf2.9 billion, started early this month in Bugesera District, Eastern Province, will be completed by December this year, according to Aimé Bosenibamwe, the Director General of the National Rehabilitation Service.
The idea to set up the facility, according to Bosenibamwe, was motivated by the fact that there has not been any such centre dedicated to women, yet the number of women indulging in drugs such as heroin, cannabis and various other substances has over the years been on the rise.
According to Bosenibamwe, it is being developed through the expansion of the already existing Gitagata Rehabilitation Centre in Bugesera District, which currently accommodates juvenile male delinquents below the age of 18.
The women wing will accommodate females between 18 and 35 and will, upon completion, have capacity to accommodate about 500 people, in line with the ongoing plan to get all children off the streets, rehabilitate and later reunify them with their families.
Meanwhile, Bosenibamwe urged parents to have children they are able to provide for, saying that many children end up on the street because their families have failed to adequately cater for them.
"There are children who are born from say commercial sex workers and delinquent mothers. Such children do not have survival means and in such case, the child should not be victim [of that situation]. If need be, we will also take that mother [to the centre] for rehabilitation in the framework of developing a strong and stable family," he said.
The government objective, he said, is not to create rehabilitation centre for children, but, to reintegrate, reunify street children in the existing families. He however observed that reintegration of such is almost impossible without rehabilitation; hence the rationale of the centre.
"A child who has spent three years on the street sniffing glue is obviously psychologically affected. Reintegrating her into a family without proper counseling would never work; which is why many end up coming back to the streets," he said.
Rehab and skills development
The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Espérance Nyirasafari told The New Times that the centre is timely as it will also equip the girls and women with skills and consider startup capital for them to start income generating projects after rehabilitation.
"It is not just male who indulge in delinquency; we have females as well. Having no centre for them was a problem. So the Gitagata centre will help us reintegrate them in a life with vision," she said.
She said that female children on the streets are more at risk than their male counterparts in that they are defiled and some end up with teenage pregnancies.
Each month, government spends about Rwf70 million on rehabilitation services including basic needs to Iwawa Rehabilitation and Training Centre in the Western Province of Rwanda.
Bosenibamwe explained that the money the government invests in rehabilitation of drug users is not a loss, but rather in line with its role to develop the country's human capital as its number one natural resource.