EDITORIAL: Musanze domestic-abuse case casts a shadow over local government

There is a distressing photo doing the rounds on twitter. It is the very image of savagery at its worst.

The photo is that of the back of a woman’s head in plaits, but half of the hair is missing after it was uprooted by brute force by her husband.

 

The man was a Deputy Mayor of Musanze District and the woman claimed she had been a victim of regular domestic violence. It seems like being a prominent member of the public shielded him from justice, so when he was arrested and applied for bail, the woman feared for the worst if her husband was given bail.

 

Whoever advised her to take her case to twitter is a genius. Soon she was sharing her nightmare with the net, and if one was to believe her, several questions quickly come to mind: What kind of hold did the man have over her that she endured the violence for years?

 

She says that even the top leadership of the province was aware of what she was undergoing. Why didn’t they act before? Do they have to wait until news trends on social media before being seen to be doing something?

Yesterday, the woman told this newspaper that she had succumbed to pressure from those sympathising with her incarcerated husband and wrote to court saying she had forgiven him.

For this, she feared her husband would get bail which forced her to take to social media on the eve of the bail ruling.  If this is true something is fishy. Could local leaders have teamed up with family to coerce the victim into ‘forgiving’ her husband?

However, in a twist of events, court yesterday postponed the bail ruling to a later date. Nonetheless, questions remain.

If citizens act as if they have no trust in the judiciary and bring in reinforcement in the form of social media, then we are in deep trouble. It is the job of the local administration to instil trust in our institutions and not hold them hostage to social media because whatever decision taken by the latter will always be attributed to social media pressure.

The rule of law should prevail to send a strong message that there is no protection for gender-based violence, whether one is a leader or not. 

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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