A countrywide campaign against gender based violence (GBV) in public places kicked off yesterday in Kigali.
It will be spearheaded by Rwanda National Police (RNP) in partnership with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Kigali Bus Services and the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO).
The campaign will be conducted through a series of measures, including putting stickers in buses with anti-GBV messages, playing audio awareness messages and arresting offenders.
The public was also reminded about the toll free call services available, through which any case of GBV and child abuse can be reported.
Police and the Gender Monitoring Office can be reached on 3512 and 5798 toll free calls respectively.
The launch at Remera Taxi Park was preceded by a meeting, where representatives of public transporters, RNP and other stakeholders discussed the challenge of sexually assaulting women and girls in public spaces-particularly on buses - and how such acts can be checked.
During the launch, city dwellers and public transporters listened to presentations on how to kick GBV out of public places and communities.
The Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa, noted that GBV is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world, and it must be dealt with in Rwanda by all institutions and every responsible citizen.
“There is need to emphasise the call against GBV and remind citizens that they must pay greater attention to the application and enforcement of laws against any individual caught in the act of molesting women or girls in any open area,” she said.
“Some people assume that they can get away with molesting women in buses by touching them without their consent or calling them derogative names. We should not let them get away with this behavior. We should all come together and fight for the rights of our mothers, daughters, relatives and friends.”
CP Emmanuel Butera, the Commissioner for Operations in RNP added that Police has shown strong commitment to prevent and fight GBV, and will press on against suspected GBV culprits that are reported by citizens.
“Just like we have zero tolerance towards corruption and graft, should also ensure that we have a zero tolerance attitude towards GBV. This intolerable behavior against women is not part of Rwandan culture and should be stopped,” he said.
“Members of the public should immediately report any direct acts of GBV that result in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm, or threats of such acts, whether they occur in public or private places.”
Fidele Ndayisaba, the Mayor of the City of Kigali, said there is strong political commitment to address GBV; however, it must be matched with community willingness to effectively condemn such acts.
“Every Rwanda has a right to use public services without facing any form of molestation. If a woman sits next to a man in a bus, it does not call for any form of sexual assault against the woman. If such an act happens, those who witness it should condemn it and take the offender to authorities,” he said.
“If not stopped, such acts result in the deprivation of freedom and other negative consequences. Combating such discriminations require everyone’s effort.”
The proprietor of Kigali Bus Services, Charles Ngarambe, said that the company had implemented a number of strategies to prevent sexual assault on buses.