The Minister for Local Government, Francis Kaboneka, yesterday, presided over the official launch of a week-long campaign against Gender Based Violence (GBV) and child abuse, and called for action against the vice.
The minister, who was addressing about 1,000 local leaders in Bugesera District, said that GBV and child abuse greatly affect socio-economic development, and called for proactive and collective measures from all parties to address the challenges.
“We can’t achieve development, public safety and health amidst family conflicts, and neither should our quest for sustainable development be hindered by GBV; this is why we must eliminate this scourge. We have the means and abilities to reverse the trend,” the minister said.
The week-long campaign fits within the family month and drew officials from the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Gender Monitoring Office and National Women Council, among others.
The event is also part of series of campaigns held in line with the Police Week 2018 that runs under the theme; ‘18 Years of Partnership in Policing: Towards a Crime-free Village.’ It is part of the Force’s 18th anniversary.
Kaboneka also pointed out that any form of child abuse affects the entire society. “When a child is abused and mistreated, they risk running away from home, dropping out of school and ending up on the streets and become thieves and other criminals.”
“The things they do in that kind of a life affects the entire society, and that’s why we must be on the lookout for their welfare. When it comes to children’s rights and welfare, we all must be concerned because what affects your neighbour’s child may affect your child as well,” he observed.
The Government, he said, loses a lot of money in rehabilitating the abandoned and abused children yet the same resources would be channeled to developmental matters had families taken good care of them.
He also hinted on the issue of abuse of illicit drugs as the major cause of GBV and child abuse, an issue he said should equally be given due attention.
“Anyone who shields his or her neighbour who deals in drugs must know that they are shielding an evil that is going to turn against them at any point.”
During the meeting, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) in charge of Administration and Personnel, Juvenal Marizamunda, called for a change in attitude.
“Behaviour change is key to addressing GBV and child abuse and local leaders should take the lead in sensitising the people and working with security organs in the protection of people’s rights,” Marizamunda said.
He added: “In having crime-free villages, we go beyond response and invest efforts in prevention and social development initiatives. We believe good citizens come from families that live in harmony; for the best of our people and our nation’s development, we must work together in ensuring we have good citizens and we can only achieve that through ensuring harmony in our families”.
The meeting was also attended by the Governor of Eastern Province, Fred Mufulukye.
Patricia Nyiramagwe, the head of Rugarama village, said: “We are not only going to campaign against GBV but are also going to tell the people about the stringent measures they risk facing as stipulated in the law because people need to know that there are laws punishing such malpractices.”
Another local leader, Theogene Uwimana, from Kibungo Cell of Ntarama Sector, said they will start by identifying and reconciling conflict ridden families, and educating families on family matters.