Know your rights: Protection from gender-based violence

Immaculée Mukashyaka shows the scar she sustained after a scuffle with a local leader in Gisagara district. (Photo by Bucyensenge).

Both males and females are equal in the eyes of the law. This is why it is unlawful to commit violence against someone because of their gender. Article 2 of N°59/2008 of 10/09/2008 the law on prevention and punishment of gender-based violence (GBV) defines gender-based violence as “any act that results in a bodily, psychological, sexual and economic harm to somebody just because they are female or male.”

One act of gender-based violence explained in article 3 of the law on prevention and punishment of gender-based violence is threatening to deprive someone of their rights in order to coerce them to indulge in a gender-based violence act.


It is the duty of parents, guardians or any other person responsible for a child to protect him/her from gender-based violence. This is according to article 7 of the law on prevention and punishment of gender-based violence, which further forbids failing to cater to a child under one’s care just because the child is male or female.


Article 10 of N°59/2008 of 10/09/2008 prohibits the use of drugs, films, signs, language and other means with the intention of committing gender-based violence. It also gives everyone a responsibility to rescue or call for rescue for victims of GBV.


According to article 12 of N°59/2008 of 10/09/2008, hearing of gender-based violence related cases is to be done at the scene of the crime if that is possible. Any person who has evidence on the GBV crimes is mandated with producing it in courts of law.

Article 13 of the law on prevention and punishment of gender-based violence says that testimonies of children and other people living in the household where the GBV crime has been committed will be put into consideration.

Acts of gender-based violence attract heavy punishment.

For example, punishment for the crime of neglecting a child and harassing him/her because of his/her sex is a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to three (3) years. This is par article 18 of N°59/2008 of 10/09/2008. This punishment also applies to anyone who refuses to care for a child who is their responsibility even if their reason is not gender-based.

Article 27 says that sexual torture or intention thereof attracts life imprisonment while gender-based human trafficking is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 15 to 20 years and a fine between Rwf500,000 and Rwf2m according to article 28 of N°59/2008 of 10/09/2008.

Other crimes punishable under the law on prevention and punishment of gender-based violence include intentional transmission of a terminal disease through sex, committing violence using narcotics, pictures, signs, language, and committing sexual indecency. Furthermore, it is punishable to refuse assistance to a victim of GBV.

The aforementioned crimes attracted serious sentences ranging from six months imprisonment to life in jail.

Since gender-based violence is a serious crime, and as such in the instance that a person is found guilty of making false accusations, he/she is punishable by law.

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