Editorial: The fight against GBV is a civic duty

Officials and residents of Kigali during the launch of the 16 Days of Activism to fight Against Gender-Based Violence in Kigali.Yesterday’s walk started from Parliament to Amahoro stadium where discussions took place. Frederic Byumvuhore

A two-week national campaign against Gender Based Violence was launched Sunday, with officials particularly calling on citizens and all residents of Rwanda to uphold the rights of others, particularly children, and to actively partake in efforts to eliminate violence against women in general.

The annual campaign, better known as the ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence’, is running under the theme, “Building the Family We Want. Say No to Child Defilement.”

GBV is a serious issue in society and should not be handled with kid glove.

Anything that attacks the fabric of the family does not only affect the socio-economic development and security of the country but it compromises its future.

Despite efforts to sensitise and educate the public about gender based violence and its dangers, the vice remains relatively prevalent across the country.

Violence against girls and women goes against the tenets of women empowerment, which Rwanda has ably embraced more than any other country. The crime of GBV should be given the urgency it deserves and perpetrators handed sentences that reflect the gravity of the offence. 

Responsible institutions should also be effectively empowered to deal with the issue decisively at every level. 

At the individual level, every citizen should bear it in mind that it’s their cardinal responsibility to not only protect children – girls and boys alike – but to be community gatekeepers and help fight those that abuse the rights of others, particularly in the context of GBV.

You must not look the other way when a neighbour commits a GBV crime (such as defilement and rape) – in the name of protecting your friendship or good neighbourliness – today it’s someone else’s child but tomorrow it could be yours.

Reporting a crime is a civic responsibility. 

Indeed a stable family is the foundation of a strong nation and that’s why every effort should be deployed to stump out gender based violence.