According to data for the Anti-Gender-Based Violence and Child Abuse Directorate in the Rwanda National Police, reports of gender violence have been on the rise in recent years.
But the police also believe that those that go unreported are much more because of the stigma of washing dirty linen in public.
Spousal abuse comes in many forms; form physical violence to psychological harassment and torture. The majority on the receiving end are usually women though it is not rare to hear of men victims of domestic violence.
Many families, especially in rural areas, are ruled by the iron fist of the man of the house, especially in communities where a woman/s place is in the kitchen and the annual visit to the maternity ward. To them, a woman has no say in the home, and any deviation from that standing rule is met but pummeling that can even lead to death.
While the police are always calling on people to report domestic violence, many are not forthcoming out of embarrassment. That is an area that the police, neighbours and local authorities need to put more emphasis; keeping silent only helps propagate the archaic and primitive culture.
But the biggest deterrent factor for that culture is heavy sanctions because some societies are not ready to change. Stiff penalties for spousal abuse is the only weapon that can defeat the vice otherwise a woman might flee the marital home only to be replaced by another victim.