In the ongoing battle against gender-based violence (GBV), understanding the prevalence of this issue is paramount. As the world engages in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, The New Times takes a look at the persistent issue of GBV in Rwanda, and worldwide. ALSO READ: Minister Uwamariya wants to boost Regional Centre of Excellence on GBV, child abuse While the Rwandan government has been proactive in the fight against gender-based violence, including the criminalisation of GBV in 2008 and the introduction of an anti-GBV policy in 2011, the problem remains widespread. From January to November this year, the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) received a staggering 8,678 GBV cases. Out of these, 3,803 cases made their way to court, and 4,267 cases were successfully resolved. 4,364 cases involved child defilement. Tracking the trends In 2020, 7,974 cases were reported, 5,326 filed in court, and 2,648 resolved. Child defilement emerged as a prominent crime. In 2021 the numbers increased, with 9,975 reported cases, 5,624 filed, and 4,351 resolved. Child defilement remained a major concern. In 2022, there was a slight decrease with 9,561 reported cases, 4,969 filed, and 4,592 resolved, child defilement continued to be a prevalent crime. ALSO READ: Defilement: Delayed reporting, evidence tampering undermine justice According to Rwanda’s Demographic and Health Survey (2019/20), 37 per cent of women aged 15-49 experienced physical, sexual, or psychological violence. 46 per cent of ever-married women faced spousal violence. Men were not exempt, with 30 per cent experiencing violence. In an October interview with The New Times, Jeannot Ruhunga, the Secretary General of Rwanda Investigation Bureau, said: The surge in GBV statistics indicates a positive shift, revealing that victims are increasingly inclined to report their cases, a crucial step forward on the path to eradicating abuse. Global perspective Globally, UN Women reports that an estimated 736 million women, nearly one in three, have endured physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their lives (30 per cent of women aged 15 and older). This figure excludes incidents of sexual harassment. The repercussions of such violence extend beyond the immediate experience. Women who have encountered violence exhibit higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV compared to those who have not. Moreover, many other health problems persist long after the violence has ceased. ALSO READ: Effects of GBV to watch out for The primary perpetrators of violence against women are often their current or former husbands or intimate partners. Over 640 million women, constituting 26 per cent of those aged 15 and older, have fallen victim to intimate partner violence. Delving further into the demographics, almost one in four adolescent girls aged 15–19 (24 per cent) who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner or husband. Additionally, 16 per cent of young women aged 15 to 24 encountered such violence in the past 12 months. ALSO READ: GBV: Is violence in-born or shaped by experience? In response to the prevalence of GBV, Rwanda established Isange One Stop Centres as one of the solutions; these centres, strategically positioned at 50 hospitals nationwide, serve as comprehensive structures to respond to and combat GBV. This initiative complements the collective endeavours of the Ministry of Health, the National Police, and the Ministry of Justice on a national scale. Numerous health centres across the country feature specialised GBV clinics, contributing to a more widespread and targeted approach. In a concerted effort to enhance support networks, healthcare workers at various health centres have also undergone training to provide assistance to GBV victims.