IJM Rwanda Advocates for Young Teenage Mother, Celebrates Justice and New Start

KIGALI, RWANDA – Justice was secured for 16-year-old Angelique* on Friday, as a judge found the man who repeatedly sexually abused her guilty and sent him to prison. Now raising a baby born from the abuse, Angelique can look forward to a safer future.

Orphaned and On Her Own

Orphaned as a young teen and completely on her own, Angelique moved into Rwanda's capital city when she was 15 to look for ways to support herself. She began working as a house maid—but the opportunity soon became a nightmare. The man of the house began raping Angelique when his wife was not around. He scared her into silence, and she had nowhere to go for help.

Angelique discovered she had become pregnant as a result of the abuse. She was terrified. The man offered to pay her to "disappear," but instead Angelique ran away from his home and reported the sexual assaults to the police.

Struggling to Survive

In August 2013, Angelique gave birth. She was 16 years old and without any support. She worked carrying water for neighbors, earning just enough to rent a small room.

"When we first met Angelique, she was living in a critical situation," says IJM Rwanda Client Care Specialist Souvenier Alphonsine. "She was occupying one very dirty room with her baby. They slept on an old wood door—with no clothes for the baby, no insurance cards [for medical care] and no meals."

IJM quickly got Angelique to a safer location, and made sure she had proper food and clothing. Angelique's baby was born deaf, so IJM helped her secure a government insurance card to make sure they could get medical treatment going forward.

Meanwhile, IJM attorneys supported Angelique in court and worked with government prosecutors to build a strong case. A DNA test helped prove that Angelique's baby was the result of this man's abuse.

On November 29, 2013, the judge found Angelique's abuser guilty, sentenced him to 10 years in prison and required he pay civil damages to the court, which will help to support Angelique's healing and her baby's future.

Today, Angelique is living in a safer home with constant support from IJM staff. IJM social workers are helping her walk through a trauma-focused therapy program as she heals from the abuse. Souvenier says, "We are happy now to see that she has found justice and is living in better conditions."

*A pseudonym 

Africa, Conviction, Sexual Violence