Rwanda sterilisation bill should open debate on mental disability

A proposed law in Rwanda meant to stem the spread of HIV has been put on the spotlight. But what mostly stands out is the proposal to sterilise people who are mentally disabled. The Human Rights Watch has come out to say the proposal is as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. And Rwanda is being urged to drop a draft law.

The law as controversial as it may seem, I find HRW lacking context here by quoting this the crime against Humanity. The sterilization as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court looks sterilization with a purpose to extinct a certain population.

I think this proposed law needs a lot of debate than just judgement.  This idea that a government is out to hurt some citizens is not the way to look at it. I don’t wholly agree with the proposal but how HRW approached the proposal is what I beg disagree with. My first thoughts when I read the story were that this is a government trying to face difficulties faced by mentally disabled people. And back in UgandaSupporters of such a proposal may be thought to prevent such mentally disabled people from having children not for other reasons but for their own good and for those of families although the law if passed may face  many challenges in implemenation. I am not saying it is the best option but instead of condemning we should be looking for ways that governments in Africa can stop this double suffering. everyday you walk through the country, you hear chilling stories of mentally ill or disabled women raped and they are pregnant. No one will ever come to claim responsibility. Then relatives of these people are left to look after them with a lot of difficulty and many families cannot afford the time or the money to take care of these women. And for those who are on the streets it’s even worse. No one cares and  most these children concieved by mentally disabled women die immediately after they are born becuase the mothers cannot care for them that is if the mothers don’t die as they deliver on their own in streets and bushes.

So besides asking Rwanda to drop this proposal I would want to hear what can be done to prevent the unwanted pregnancies among mentally disabled people. This bill should cover areas of protecting such groups not just from pregnancies but also from HIV. How do we ensure mentally disabled people are protected from all this is the key question here but not viewing the proposed law as just abusive.

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