EDITORIAL: Establish sexual offender registry as the first step

Wednesday July 1 2020

Rwanda has announced that it will have its own

Rwanda has announced that it will have its own sex offenders’ registry, becoming the second country in Africa to take this step. PHOTO | SEARCH  

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South Africa is the only country on the continent with a sex offender registry. That alone should speak volumes about Africa's lack of desire to end rape and defilement cases.

Enacted in 2007, the South African registry records details of individuals convicted of sexual offenses against a child or a mentally disabled person.

Now Rwanda has announced that it will have its own sex offenders’ registry, becoming the second country in Africa to take this step. The move is aimed at deterring rape and other sexual crimes that are sadly quite rampant.

The registry will be designed to allow authorities to keep track of the activities of convicted sex offenders, including those who have completed their criminal sentences.

But there is one big problem. For years it has appeared as though sexual offenses are only committed in the rural areas.

If you are to follow the hundreds of prosecutions involving sexual crimes every year, few of them occur within Kigali and even fewer happen in government institutions and large corporate companies.


Does this mean that sexual crimes do not happen in high places? Does this mean, therefore, that the sex offenders’ registry is going to be filled with names of rural men?

As a matter of fact, sexual crimes do happen in high offices, but such cases end up only on the lips of individuals, a few tweets maybe, but nothing is done in reality.

Men in government and corporate offices tend to get away scot-free and are rarely mentioned as sex offenders.
This means that they are not worried either about the sex offenders' registry that the government plans to put in place.

Women for years have voiced concerns that the government and society are doing very little to deter sex crimes.

Women of all ages have become victims. Babies are not spared, as the entire country was shocked a while back when a father is said to have raped his own three-monthold baby girl.
And another so-called father recently defiled their 12-year-old baby.

But these are not stories in isolation.

The police website is also full of defilement and rape arrests. It is absurdly familiar and reported quite often that women, girls and babies are subjected to sexual offenses all the time.They have nowhere to hide; not at their workplaces and not in their own homes.

More than 10,000 girls in the 16-19 age bracket fell victim to early or unwanted pregnancies in 2018, government statistics show.

Why haven't such figures worried everyone?

Now let’s face it. A sex offender registry is a good step but it is not enough. As a matter of fact, it is barely enough.

Men have justified rape throughout history. Here in Rwanda, men have had the audacity of sanitising sexual crimes as "culture" through the inhumane act of “Guterura”.