Govt project targets victims

Thursday November 22 2018

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Studies have found that one out of three women experience gender-based violence at the hands of a close family member. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By ARAFAT MUGABO
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The government has stepped up efforts to end gender-based violence with a new project dubbed “Twiceceka” or Speak Out aimed at empowering victims to speak out and report abuse.

At least Rwf62 million has been earmarked to support initiatives to raise awareness against gender-based violence across the country over the next two years.

According to a 2017 report by the United Nation Development Programme in Rwanda, at least one out of three women in the country experience violence at the hands of close male family member.

The project will focus largely on awareness and capacity building in all districts across the country with a focus on men, who make up a big percentage of perpetrators.

The project will involve a survey to find out areas with high rates of gender-based violence to help authorities come up with better policies to curb it.

According to Demographic and Health Survey, 22 per cent of women aged 15-49 experience sexual violence in the country every year. Although physical violence is the most noticeable, other forms of violence including rape and child defilement also make up a high percentage.

A report by Women for Women International Rwanda and officials of the Twiceceka project, showed that in 2017 more than 800 girls under the age of 18 got pregnant around the country.

According to Rwanda National Police Records, since 2009, over 36 cases of human trafficking involving more than 150 victims were reported and 90 per cent of the victims were female, 82 per cent of them aged between 18 and 35.

Christiane Umuhire, director of Family Promotion and Child Protection at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, said in 2017-2018 cases of rape and domestic violence increased compared with previous years.

“In all the gender-based violence cases presented by the prosecution in 2017, child defilement was rated high at 99 per cent,” said Ms Umuhire.

She added that, “In 2017/2018, 2,996 child defilement and 505 rape cases were reported compared with 2,086 child defilement and 308 rape cases in 2016/2017. This was an increase of 910 child defilement cases and 197 rape cases in one year.”

“We realised that engaging civil society would help in the fight against gender-based violence and that’s why this time round we will be working closely with them,” said Ms Umuhire, adding that the project will include men, women and children.

The project will see men and boys trained together with women and girls about what constitutes gender-based violence and ways to prevent it.

“We are sure there will be great improvement when men and women get together at one table to discuss these issues,” said Ms Umuhire. “Our goal is to ensure that by 2020 at least 80 per cent of all Rwandans understand all forms of gender-based violence,” she added.

Vestina Murekatete (not real name) a mother of four, said forced sexual intercourse, land conflicts between married couples, rape and defilement are the most notable forms of gender-based violence.

“My husband once came home drunk and requested to have sex, but I was too sick to do it, so he beat me up then forced himself on me. I suffered the injuries for almost two months,” she said.

I believe my husband thought it was his right to demand for anything at any time without knowing that forcing me is violating my rights too.

Raphael Mushumba of Faith Victory Association, a consulting company that partnered with Women for Women International Rwanda to draft the project, said that people living in the rural areas still fear to report gender-based violence.