Batwa demand access to sex education

Batwa demand access to sex education
The Batwa say they lack access to sex education | Lukia Nantaba

The Batwa community in Rubanda District has raised concerns over their exclusion from accessing sex education.

This sentiment was expressed during a stakeholder meeting organised by the Local Sustainable Communities Organisation, which aimed to address social barriers hindering the achievement and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Batwa in Rubanda live in villages such as Kagano, Karengyere, Rwamahano, and Rwaburindi, all located in Muko Sub-county.

Rwamahano, in particular, is known for housing a community of vulnerable individuals who once inhabited the forests of Bwindi, Echuya, and Mgahinga in the Kigezi sub-region.

Amos Tungumisirinze, an advocate for the Batwa minority group, said the marginalised ethnic group has been deprived of access to sex education, attributing this to long distances and feelings of inferiority.

He further explains that most health facilities capable of providing sex education are located far from the Batwa homesteads.

Tungumisirinze emphasizes that the Batwa's ignorance and discrimination have significantly contributed to cases of early pregnancies.

He called on the government to conduct outreach programs, especially targeting Batwa communities, to ensure they receive information about sex education.

“When we talk about access to reproductive health among the Batwa, they don’t receive any at all because they are in hard-to-reach areas," Tungumisirinze said.

"Since minority group of the Batwa stay in the forests it's so challenging for them to have access to health facilities. Among the Batwa, there has been increased number of teenage pregnancies."

Scovia Tumuhise, a nursing officer at Muko Health Centre IV, confirms that the Batwa community seldom visits health centre for sex education.

She suggests that it is high time health facilities implement special outreach programmes for the Batwa, as sex education is crucial for preventing early pregnancies.

Albert Taremwa, the executive director of the Local Sustainable Communities Organisation, said they are committed to working closely with health centres and government structures to reach out to the Batwa.

He stresses that sexual reproductive health and rights are essential for all groups of people.

“As an organisation, we shall work closely with government structures and health facilities which are located in Batwa community to ensure that Batwa community benefits," Taremwa said.

The Batwa, a minority group, are a semi-nomadic pygmy tribe that once inhabited the woodlands of Echuya, Bwindi, and Mgahinga forests, living as hunters and gatherers.

However, in 1992, the government evicted them from their ancestral lands without providing alternative accommodations.

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