Parents’ forums, locally known as Akagoroba Kababyeyi, are the latest home grown solution for solving domestic conflicts.
Locals say the forums have done much to address family wrangles and curb domestic violence.
When Lydia Nyirandahimana had a serious misunderstanding with her husband, and initially kept it to herself out of fear of embarrassment.
“We were embroiled in constant wrangles with my husband over decision making. He could not allow me to express my views, saying no positive idea comes from a woman.
“My children could not speak also for fear of being beaten. But I was ashamed to tell outsiders what I was going through,’’ Nyirandahimana said.
She, however, later informed neighbours about it; who in turn quickly mobilsed and sat her down to understand the genesis of their misunderstanding.
As a result, the resident of Buyumbo Sector, Rwamagana District, is now at peace with her spouse after neighbours helped mend their relations.
“Initially I was afraid to share family issues but when I spoke out and received advice, things changed for the better,” Nyirandahimana said.
“My children have also benefited from the programme, their father now pays attention to them and that way their rights are respected.” she added.
Anne Marie Ugiriwabo, a resident of Kabuga, Kicukiro District, said she felt relieved after sharing her worries in the parents’ forum’.
“This forum has turned quarrels into constructive discussions.” she said.
Jean Twahirwa, another Kabuga resident, said the forum is key to ending family conflicts and urged men to join the platform as well.
“Some men are reluctant to attend the meetings. Yet it’s a good opportunity to share views on how to overcome misunderstandings among family members.
‘‘I advise men to be involved. It has transformed homes into friendlier units of the community, it fosters dialogue,” Twahirwa said.
According to the National Women Council, the impact of parents’ forums has been been noticed.
Jacqueline Kamanzi Masabo, the executive secretary of the National Women’s Council, in an interview, said the parents’ forum give parents a platform to discuss and share experience on how to address family issues.
“Parents’ forum is a platform that brings parents together to discuss strategies that can be taken by family members to improve their relationships, prevent and resolve conflicts that arise in their households, neighbourhood or elsewhere. Family has a big role to play in society,” Kamanzi said.
“Violence cases have reduced since this forum was initiated. Within parents’ forum, each parent acts as a brother’s keeper.
“When they meet they evaluate the rate of domestic violence and what is going on in their neighbourhood,” she said,
On low numbers of men that partake in the forums, Kamanzi appealed to husbands to embrace the initiative.
“The family is composed of husband, wife and children.” she said.
Parents’ forum was officially launched in March 2013 by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame as part of efforts to check domestic violence and family conflicts through promotion of family values.
The village-level meetings also discuss security, hygiene, family planning, children’s rights, and government policies on gender equality among.