There is need to find a lasting remedy to the issue of child molestation and drug abuse, both which are destroying the moral fabric of the Rwandan society, Members of Parliament heard yesterday.
Presenting her institution’s 2017/2018 annual report, the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Madeleine Nirere told lawmakers that in one year alone the number of cases brought to One Stop Centres for treatment and follow up as a result of defilement had come to 266.
“Of these, 91 of them, representing 34. 2 per cent were pregnant and 10 of them were infected with sexually transmitted diseases. 132 of them were able to report the crime immediately while 71 were only discovered when pregnant and 63 discovered a little later,” she said.
Nirere told MPs that over 35 per cent of the victims fall between 13 and 17 blaming the issue on alcohol, drugs and negligence of parents.
Still on child rights, Nirere said that though there have been improvements in the area of education, there were still some challenges.
On the highlights, she pointed out that in 2017, only 24.2 per cent of children between 3 and 6 years had attended kindergarten while 98.7 per cent of children between 7 and 12 attended primary school.
Seventy-two of those between 13 and 18 attended secondary school while 16.6 per cent of those between 19 and 23 made it to university and other higher institutions of learning.
On the challenges, she said that 5.6 per cent of the children attending primary school dropout, those who drop out in O’Level total 6.3 per cent while those who drop out in A’Level 2.5 per cent.
“We narrowed down the issues causing children to drop out of school and they are related to parents’ negligence when it comes to their responsibilities,” she said.
According to the NHRC, in general, police investigated 328 murder cases but the commission on its own investigated 28 blaming these cases on drugs, among others.
“Among the 28 we received, 14 were resolved and 14 are still under investigation. The main cause of these issues is mostly drug abuse, domestic conflicts and assault. One of the solutions that has been found is the use of forensic laboratory to speed up the process of bringing those involved to justice,” she said.
According to NHRC, the local community consumes radio news stands at 89 per cent, 33.4 per cent take in television news and programmes, 17 per cent consume online news while 13.8 per cent consume print news.
She, however, said that financial constraints continue to challenge more media houses, sometimes forcing some of them to close down.
“The biggest challenge is funding, rendering some of the media houses to close. So far, one TV station and one print media house closed. There is also an issue of failure by some media houses to respect rules and regulations, resulting into the closure of one radio station and one TV station,” she said.
MP Christine Muhongayire called for a collective solution to put an end to the issue of child defilement, which she said should be dealt with once and for all.
“We need to put our voices together and bring this issue to an end. This is bad for the victims, for their families, and for society at large. No one should do something this barbaric and get away with it,” she said.
MP Diogène Bitunguramye called on the Government to include institutions that look after the elderly in the national budget.
“You visited institutions that are taking care of the elderly and they are in dire need of financial support. I would like to request that in the next budget, this issue is included because those doing this work are sacrificing a lot and the elderly are also at a point where they need society to take care of them,” she said.
MP Frank Habineza called for the Government’s intervention in regard to supporting the media.
“You indicated that there is a funding challenge for media houses in the country. I would like to suggest that a media development fund is put in place to support media houses, especially private ones,” he said.
The National Human Rights Commission is entrusted with the responsibility of promoting and protecting human rights in the country.