[FEATURED] Report: Gender based violence against people with disabilities unreported

Members of the panel during the news conference. Photos by Joseph Mudingu

Seventy-nine per cent of the gender based violence cases that are committed against persons living with disabilities in Rwanda go unreported, according to the Community Scorecard on Sexual reproductive Health and Rights and Gender Based Violence.

The report was released on Friday by Faith Victory Association (FVA) in partnership with ACTIONAID Rwanda.

FVA partnered with ACTIONAID Rwanda in implementing Amplify for Change project in order to strengthen the effectiveness of women rights groups in promoting sexual reproductive health and rights and tackle violence based on gender.

The project was implemented in three districts of Musanze, Karongi and Gisagara.

Over 509 community members including women, men and youth from Musanze, Gisagara and Karongi participated in the scorecard, which identified key issues in sexual reproductive health and rights and tackle violence based on gender.

Journalists who attendend the press conference.

Among the scorecard established that there were no specific programmes and services to educate or sensitise young boys and girls about sexual reproductive health and rights.

In addition to a shortage of institutions providing education and counselling on sexual and reproductive health, the report also revealed that parents fear to engage their children on sexual and reproduction discussions.

It showed that citizens are not well educated and sensitised about the laws on GBV, meaning that victims do not know their rights.

The absence of strong mechanism to prevent gender base corruption was also highlighted among the challenges.

There is still a culture of silence when GBV cases happen, no immediate response mechanism and poor handling and management of evidence resulting in acquittal of victims, the report says.

Data consolidated from the three districts showed that gender based violence such as domestic violence, human trafficking, rape, conjugal rape, sexual harassment and child defilement are not reported.

According to Nyiraneza Albertine, the Vice President of Wiceceka, very few respondents expressed confident that cases on GBV are investigated, addressed and sanctioned.

“A relatively small proportion of the participants were satisfied on how gender cases were handled at administration and judicial level. The culture of silence, poor management of evidence and community including family pressure were cited as key reasons for not reporting these cases” said Nyiraneza

She however added that the Government has done everything possible to sensitize the public about gender based violence but in spite of its efforts, some challenges persist.

“People need to be trained about how to go about GBV cases for example girls who are raped delay reporting such incidences and thus washing away all the evidence. Days after they decide to report the case and as it happens they don’t have evidence to prove that they were really raped” she added.

The president of Wiceceka network, Alphonse Ntirenganya, explained that the scorecard was designed create free space for citizens and service providers as well as leaders to openly exchange ideas on issues affecting their livelihoods.

“The process offers service providers with an opportunity to reflect on the services they provide and make their own assessment through the same scoring process” said Ntirenganya

Among the key recommendation were that Government and stakeholders should effectively sensitise citizens and disseminate laws sexual reproductive health and rights and tackle violence based on gender.

This, it proposes, can be achieved through empowering opinion leaders or paralegals to use the existing structures such as evening couple forums “Umugoroba w’ ababyeyi to sensitize citizens about their rights and GBV laws.

Also, district leaders should design strategies of empowering parents with skills and knowledge of engaging and discussing with their children about SRHR and GBV.

This should include providing knowledge to parents on how to keep and preserve evidence in case of GBV including cases of rape as well as on how and where to access SRHR services.

FVA is a Christian Faith Based and Non-governmental Organization (NGO) dedicated to providing orphans, women, and minors a safe haven, training, schooling, and opportunities since 2003.

The NGO’s mission is to facilitate processes that break the cycle of poverty, reduce HIV infections, combat domestic violence and help communities build programs to distribute resources to Rwandese.