Local leaders have been challenged to reach out to residents and step up the fight against gender based violence and child abuse. An awareness campaign event, held in Ngoma yesterday, is part of Rwanda National Police (RNP) nationwide awareness crusade against GBV and child abuse in the country. It was attended by hundreds of local leaders and security personel. Aphrodise Nambaje, the Mayor of Ngoma District, asked leaders to take the lead in the fight against GBV and child abuse, by always engaging the people and promoting unity. “Violence against women and children robs thenm of their potential which hinders economic development, threatens peace, prosperity, and slows down their full participation in family and community affairs.” Nambaje said. “It is time for all of us to assume full responsibility and go beyond condemning this behavior but rather take stern measures to end it. “Communities should be sensitised and told to steer clear of such crimes because they are not socially acceptable.’’ She added. Deputy Commissioner General of Police Stanley Nsabimana noted that RNP put gender equality and the advancement of women and girls rights at the forefront in its operations. “We at Police have devised core strategies to prevent and respond more effectively to GBV cases whenever they manifest in society. “Community leaders and residents should forge a way forward, set goals to be implemented and monitored in order to protect women and children,” he said. “Regardless of the form that GBV takes, it is a human rights violation that Rwanda, as a country, has chosen to uproot from society. And we can only end this if we worked together.”he noted. Superintendent Belline Mukamana, head of Police’s anti-Gender-based Violence and Child Protection directorate, added that apart from identifying perpetrators in society, the community should offer protection to the vulnerable and victims of GBV and child abuse. Gender-based violence takes on many forms and can sometimes occur without anyone realising. Types of gender-based violence usually include female infanticide; child sexual abuse; sex trafficking and forced labour, neglect, domestic violence, and harmful traditional practices such as early and forced marriage. It is associated with many negative consequences, including adverse physical and mental health, limited or no access to education, increased costs in terms of medical and legal services, lost household productivity, and reduced income.