Police have called on the public to promptly report defilement cases once they take place in order to facilitate justice for the victims.
This follows an incident on Monday where Police arrested a man suspected of defiling a 3-year-old girl.
The 28-year-old man was at the time of the crime working as a houseboy at the girl’s parents’ home in Remera, Gasabo District.
Although the girl had allegedly been defiled on January 14, her parents delayed to report the case until Monday, which may have given the suspect enough time to interfere with evidence or to escape before being arrested.
The victim is currently undergoing treatment at Kacyiru Police Hospital, while the suspect is held at Remera Police Station pending investigations.
“When a child is sexually assaulted, their world is devastated; and help must be availed to them in the littlest time possible if they are to heal completely. However, people are sometimes afraid to talk openly about these assaults, because they fear society’s perception,” Beline Mukamana, the head of anti-Gender-based Violence and Child Protection Directorate at Rwanda National Police, said.
“I urge parents, guardians and the general public to immediately come forward with information to Police in cases of defilement and rape. Police have the ability, skills and knowledge to conduct quality investigations in such cases, but timely information is very crucial.”
Psychologists say victims of defilement and rape respond differently to the crime; some become dreadfully depressed, while others become very angry.
Effect on a victim
According to Mukamana, all these emotions are fair responses to sexual assault, and if the victims sense that justice might not take course, they sometimes end up trying to seek for revenge or indulging in other criminal offences.
“If your child is sexually assaulted and you delay to report, chances are, the suspect will attack someone else. Therefore, this evidence that you provide could be the difference between a conviction and another rape on another person,” she said.
Police established a toll free number 3512, where information from the public concerning defilement, rape and other gender-based crimes can be reported so that immediate action can commence.
Important as well, the anti-GBV and child protection department also advises that even though one may have a strong desire to shower after being violated, they must first see a doctor in order to provide fresh evidence to try and convict the defilement or rape suspect.
Defilement cases topped Rwanda’s gender-based crime list in 2012, although recorded cases of GBV reduced to 3,444 from 3,585 in 2011, mainly due to increased public awareness campaigns and law enforcement.
Article 191 of the Penal Code punishes defilement with to life imprisonment.