What is going on in Rwanda?

Human Rights Watch reports that Rwanda is considering a bill with scary mandates:

First it provides that all individuals who plan to marry must undergo HIV testing and provide a certificate beforehand. Second, married individuals are required to be tested for HIV/AIDS upon the request of their spouses. Third, if a physician finds it “necessary” for a child or an incapacitated person to be tested for HIV/AIDS, he or she may conduct the test without seeking consent and may show the result to the parent, guardian, or care provider.

But Rwanda’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament denies this:

Rwanda has strongly denied reports that its parliament is considering a draft law which would forcibly sterilise people who are mentally disabled.
Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, deputy speaker of parliament, was responding to a call by US-based activists Human Rights Watch to scrap the proposed law.
He also told the BBC that plans for HIV testing before couples get married are strictly voluntary, not compulsory.
Mr Ntawukuriryayo said the lobby group should check before releasing reports.

So, where does that leave things? The bill certainly exists. But what it contains, its status, and so on seems to be something of a mystery right now. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. There’s a fine line to mind between getting info out there and ensuring all the facts are correct, particularly in a world where information can spread as fast as we can type it and our twitter followers, RSS readers, listserv subscribers and blog buddies see it and spread it.


  1. freewomyn says:

    Wow, Annaleigh – that bill is fucked up, to say the least. I’m all for a spouse being able to force their partner to get tested. But the part that troubles me the most is the portion about the teenagers.

    The part about being tested before you can get married is interesting. I guess the government thinks that people will remain celibate if they’re not married, and therefore they will be able to prevent the spread of HIV. But it’s obviously not the case if they’re testing unmarried people. How did they get HIV if it wasn’t from sex? I can understand the government’s intentions here, but it seems like more political posturing than anything else.

  2. yasmine says:

    Annaleigh is right – information needs to be verified before it spreads like wild fire. What HRW doesn’t bother to say in its much hyped release is that the draft bill was rejected by the upper chamber of parliament and is currently being reviewed and corrected to conform to guidlines in the consitution and other established policy.

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