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SHOCKER! In Rwanda, Girls Who Have Children Out Of Wedlock Used To Be Punished By Drowning

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Giving birth to children out of wedlock is in many cultures considered to be taboo or downright immoral. In a country like Rwanda, people still frown upon this act, however, the consequences of it are not as gruesome as it used to be.

Rwanda has a very rich culture, one that doesn’t seem to change amidst modernity and the ever-changing world. However, some aspects of the culture seem to be obsolete or going extinct.

Amongst these is how the Rwandan society used to treat women who had a premarital pregnancy. A girl who got pregnant before marriage could be very much subjected to drowning.

Women or girls bearing children out of wedlock were once punished by exile or even death. They would be taken to Ijwi Island in the Western Province and drowned in Lake Kivu.

According to Rwasamirera, an expert in Rwandan tradition, “Rwandans believed that bastards were a curse and that God would send drought as punishment. The punishment was meant to scare any girl from having premarital s3x,” he adds.

Today, this punishment cannot work because of international laws that protect human rights. However, people still emphasize on the need to address out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

Another tradition that is getting endangered in Rwanda is the use of cows as an item for dowry. Dowry is seen as an indication of a woman’s value and many women have no interest in changing this element of culture.

Traditionally, dowry was paid in cows, though nowadays, most people have replaced cows with money. Back then, when a cow was given to the parents of the girl, the first calf born was given back to the young couple.


But today, due to westernisation, cows are no longer brought to the functions and a woman’s value is determined in cash terms.

According to Rwasamirera, it wasn’t just cows given as dowry but goats, sheep and hoes too, depending on the economic status of the family receiving the dowry.

He adds that today, giving money instead of cattle does not mean dowry is a price, but a gift for the parents.

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