The First Lady Jeannette Kagame has said that Rwanda is determined to fight gender based violence and has called on the people to join efforts to bring a stop to the violence that constitutes a breach of fundamental rights of individuals.
Mrs Kagame made the call while officially launching the scaling up of Isange One Stop centers for Gender Based Violence (GBV) countrywide. The event took place at Nyagatare District hospital in the Eastern Province, yesterday.
“Rwanda has the political will to protect every individual. The leadership desires that all Rwandans live in peace and harmony without any threat to their well being,” Mrs Kagame said.
The First Lady pointed out that there are various laws that protect women, men and children as well as policies designed to ensure that the rights of everyone are protected from any forms of abuse.
In 2009, the government in partnership with various stakeholders established the first Isange One Stop Center at the Police hospital in Kacyiru, Kigali.
The Center was designed to offer a wide range of services to help victims of gender violence. These include medical, psycho-social, forensic and legal services.
“After the Center registered remarkable success, the government decided to open up more centers in hospitals across the country, so that other Rwandans can benefit from the services,” Mrs Kagame said. She went on to acknowledge the role of the police in making the centers a success.
Despite the efforts to stop gender based violence, figures show that cases of abuse are still high.
“Available research shows that among the cause of violence is conflict in homes, drugs and alcohol. I call upon everyone here to come up with concrete strategies to do away with the causes of violence,” the First Lady told the audience.
More than 2,000 residents joined high-level dignitaries that included Ministers, security officials, diplomats, donors and provincial leaders at the events to launch the center.
Mrs Kagame also spoke out against other forms of violence noting that cases of rape, physical abuse and domestic violence need due attention as well – not forgetting violence against men and sexual abuse of boys.
These forms of abuse, the First Lady said, have adverse effects on people’s well being as well as the bringing up of children.
“There are cases where people get killed, others handicapped, get infected with HIV and others who get traumatized,” Mrs Kagame observed, adding that it must not be forgotten that abuse slows down the development of an individual, their family and the country in general.
Awareness, the First Lady said, will go a long way to stopping violence, urging the people to report cases of abuse and calling on care givers to closely follow up on victims and respond rapidly to cases of abuse.
Mrs Kagame thanked all partners for their continued support in spreading Isange services to various hospitals in the country.
Among the key partners is the One UN and Dutch Government which donated 2.5 million Euros.
The Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda Leoni Cuelenaere said the launch of the centers marked a new phase of Rwanda’s relentless campaign against GBV.
“The commitment of Rwanda to end the vice is known all over the world…this comprehensive approach to fight abuse of children has sustainable results. Our country is proud to support this programme,” she said.
The choice of the Eastern Province as the venue for the launch was triggered by the fact that it is the second Province after the City of Kigali, with the highest numbers of GBV cases.
In the last 2 years, more than 558 victims were treated at the GBV center in Nyagatare.
A moving testimony by a victim of violence left the audience emotional. Jackline, was defiled at 13 as she prepared to join secondary school. She got pregnant and delivered a baby boy who is now two-years old. She spoke of how she was abused physically, but managed to overcome the psychological and emotional trauma. She has since returned to school and dreams of becoming the governor so that she can help victims and help stop the violence.
“I wish I could join boarding school so I can excel in my studies,” she told the audience.
The First Lady pledged to help her achieve her dreams as she has done for many across the country.