SPECTRA is a young feminist organization based in Rwanda committed to contributing to the realization of sexual and reproductive justice of young women and girls.Together with our community we are working on different projects related to SRJ, one of them being #HerStory. One of the objectives of the HERStory project is to identify and respond to structural and systemic barriers to the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) by women and girls as a way to call policy makers to address and remove these barriers.
In May 2020 the SPECTRA team learned about the case of Uwera, an 18 year-old young woman from the Muhanga district, who was raped by an older man from her neighborhood. The man threatened her life if she reported the case. Uwera resulted pregnant from the rape and wanted to access abortion services. Under Rwandan laws, she is indeed eligible to get a safe abortion. She was approved for the service but all available health facilities close to her home turned out to be faith-based and as such, were unwilling to provide the service. Uwera was later referred to Kigali city for the service. It was not possible for her nor her family to afford the transport and the related travel costs to get to Kigali and they were also unable to afford the cost of a community health insurance (Mituelle) to enable her to get subsidized medical services.
SPECTRA was able to support, and paid all costs for the service, transport and other incidentals for her and her sister who accompanied her while at the hospital in Kigali. After the service, Uwera said that she had been devastated about the rape but she was even more concerned about the pregnancy. She feels much better now and is relieved to know that she has a chance to have the future that she hopes for. Uwera was in primary six before schools were closed because of COVID-19 but she is thinking of going to vocational school now.There remains structural and systemic barriers to access SRHR services including limited capacity to afford health insurance, costs of other out-of-pocket expenses not covered by the public health package and increasing religious barriers in the health system especially to access safe and legal abortion. SPECTRA is committed to support young women facing such difficulties through an SRHR fund launched in February 2020 and continuously calling for policy makers to address these barriers.