Cases of gender-based violence (GBV) continue to rise in the country, with women bearing the brunt of the menace as many end up losing their lives in domestic fights.
The civil society organizations that fight for the rights of women and children have raised alarm over the growing cases of gender-based violence, especially in the rural areas, where many women have ended up losing their lives.
A case of a 38-year-old man in Rwamagana who killed his wife with whom they had two children, shocked neighbors who said although at times they could hear quarrels, they couldn’t think it had reached the level of the man hacking his wife to death.
More cases continue to be reported on local news sites, although civil society organizations say many go unreported.
“Gender-based violence keeps getting worse, but now what is even worse is that the cases of men killing their wives have spiked, something drastic needs to be done” said Umurerwa Ninette, executive secretary of Haguruka-which fights for the rights of women and children.
She noted that many of the GBV cases currently are a result of conflicts that spring from failure to agree on ownership of property between the couples, finances and the fact that the family unit gets fragile every passing day.
Although efforts by children and women rights organizations in the past years led to review of discriminatory laws by including clauses that give rights to women to own property.
Legal instruments such the inheritance law, the family law and land law that give women equal rights to inherit property and own 50 percent of the property owned between married couples were welcomed When they came into force.
But social analysts say they seem to have driven some men to dark places in the quest to own property.
For someone married to get a land title, it has to indicate that 50 percent is owned by the wife and the other 50 percent by the husband, with both their names appearing alongside their percentages, and the decision to sell has to first be consented and signed by both parties.
In November last year, the government mounted a 16-day nation-wide campaign against GBV, and security agencies like RIB and police introduced toll free numbers for victims to call in case they need help, but all this seems to yield little.
At least one in three married women in Rwanda reported having experienced physical violence from their partners, and 46percent of married women reported to have experienced spousal physical, sexual, or emotional violence, according to the recent Demographic and health survey report.
The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion has said that the past five years have seen a significant increase in gender and domestic- related violence, which necessitated government to put up a number of measures such as the Isange One Stop Center-a safe shelter for GBV victims or those at risk.
“Over the past 3 years, we have seen an increase in the number of people seeking help for abuse, both at the doctor’s office, at the Isange One Stop Center, at Police Stations and elsewhere. This shows that people now know their rights, and victims are increasingly coming out to report cases which is a good thing,” said Jeannette Bayisenge, the Minister of gender and family promotion, while launching a recent campaign.
Studies have found high concentration of GBV cases among uneducated husbands, drunkards, and the highest concentration of victims has been observed to be among women from poor backgrounds and those that seem to have taken decisions to improve their earnings or be more in control of their health.
GBV cases surged at the height of the coronavirus pandemic period as victims were forced to be in the same spaces with their abusers due to lockdowns, and many could not access the help available because it was not listed among the essential services at the time.