New strategy to stem gender violence

  • By Jean Pierre Bucyensenge
  • September 03, 2012

NYARUGURU – A few years ago, the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) was intensified across the country in the spirit of putting an end to it.

Rwanda has enacted laws, ratified and domesticated various international and regional conventions to fight Gender Based Violence.

It has also established different institutions to help address the issue. And, the Rwandan Civil Society has joined the fight through their ‘Coalition against gender based violence’.

Despite all the efforts, GBV is still prevalent in various families and it is most reported in rural areas.

Jeanne Uwimana, a resident of Munini sector in Nyaruguru district, affirms that some individuals in her locality are still subjected to gender violence – something she attributes to cultural beliefs and ignorance.

“Some people still do fear to report such violence while the community in general seems to ignore the existence of that issue”, she says.

“Gender-based violence is still really a serious issue”.

And as the vice continues to be prevalent in different forms, various tools to combat it are being devised.

In that spirit, a new strategy and approach to prevent and fight against the issue has been designed and currently in use in some sectors of Nyaruguru district.

The community dialogue approach, implemented by the Action for Health and Integrated Development (AHID), seeks to bring together local residents to discuss the violence as a group and take appropriate measures.

AHID is a local non-governmental organisation created in 2003 focusing on empowering vulnerable groups to become leaders in poverty reduction while at the same time advocating for health equity and social justice.

“Community dialogue is a way of addressing gender-based violence with solutions from the community with means they are tailored to the community,” explains André Munezero, AHID’s programmes officer.

“People come together and share ideas, views and opinion on how the vice can be addressed.”

He adds: “When people are aware of the existing problem and how it can be solved, it is easier to end it. Dialogue is a wonderful tool to reach to that end”.

The approach helps in creating awareness among the targeted groups and is a way of making them ‘activists’ in the fight against GBV in their communities.

However, it was observed that speaking about GBV is always not easy, especially when the victim is talking what she or he goes through in their homes, according to Munezero.

“But we hope through discussion, people will get used and will openly speak against the vice,” he says.

The exercise is targeting women and girls in three sectors of Nyaruguru district, southern province.

Women were chosen for their vulnerability to gender violence, according to AHID officials.

“Women and girls’ involvement is vital if we want to put an end to GBV”, Munezero observes. “Once they own this fight, the issue will be addressed very quickly”.

For Illuminee Uwimana, a social affairs officer in Kibeho sector, the fight must start with women and girls.

“Women must be devoted and dedicated to this fight. Ownership [of this struggle] is essentially among them as they are the most victimised”, Uwimana says.

“If women discover their role and start discussing gender violence with men, we will put an end to it”.

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