Why violence against women thrives at their marital homes

Tuesday October 12 2021

Scenes from Imuhira, which won the Mediem Patent Verwaltung AG Award at Locarno Film Festival in August. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE


Myriam Birara’s short film Imuhira (Home) strikes at the heart of gender based violence, especially the forces that feed fuel to its ugly fire. It sets off with Kanama, a female protagonist, arriving at a rural homestead, tired and in bandages.

Shortly, she enters a house and breaks into a scream.

Kanama is grief, worsened by the disappointmentshe faces while at home a place that is supposed to offer her refuge.

In one scene, she is harbouring suicidal thoughts and even attempts suicide by jumping into a river.

“Kanama, a wife can’t dare talk when her husband is talking!” her mother advises at a family meeting called to figure out how to salvage Kanama's marriage.

Indeed, the entire family believes a husband 'never goes wrong,’ and if he does, he is never to be questioned, or confronted by a wife.


Directed by Birara and co-produced by Kivu Ruhorahoza, the 12 minutes and 40 seconds 2021 film in Kinyarwanda with English subtitles lays bare society’s hidden shame, that is, gender-based violence.

The film starring Mickal Umuhirwe, Cecile Kakuze, Yves Kijana, Ibrahim and Ntakirutimana shines a light on the beliefs society holds towards married women.

Birara brings out the best of her protagonist, who emerges as depressed, hardly talking but wailing and screaming.

The film’s director also exercises great skill in using one set, the same homestead.

The director leaves her audience grappling with the fact that such husbands are rarely brought to justice even as their wives carry around pain.

The film was screened and won the Mediem Patent Verwaltung AG Award at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival in August, the same month it premiered at Italy’s Concorto Film Festival.

Imuhira comes after the 26-year old’s debut short film Igihozo (2011) produced under Almond Tree Films. This was followed by Igare rya Nshuti in 2012.

After she won Maisha Film Lab Award in 2017, she produced the Dream Job in 2018.

Imuhira will have its British premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on October 10.