Ignorance of laws and individual rights is among the major challenges in Rwanda’s effort to prevent Gender Based Violence (GBV), a Gender Monitoring Office (GMO) report has established.
The report focused on the country’s current status in preventing GBV cases.
The law, which is gazetted as No 59/ 2008 describes GBV as various sexual, psychological, bodily and economic crimes committed on the basis of sex. Cases like rape, infant assault and sexual harassment of married couples are also included in the law.
The Deputy Chief Monitor, Eugenie Kabageni noted that most Rwandans do not know the law that was enacted in 2008.
The few who are informed are those who have sought legal assistance when they were victimised or those who benefited from GMO training.
“People still suffer from Gender Based Violence and let it pass because they are not aware of the law and their rights.”
She added that some do not know where to report cases of assault, which escalates GBV cases.
“A sexually assaulted woman may waste time seeking redress from the local authorities instead of rushing to the Police before the evidence wears out,” she said.
Zaina Nyiramatama, the head of Haguruka Association, an NGO that also promotes gender equality, notes that some do not understand the seriousness in penalties imposed on culprits, which prompts them to disregard the law.
“For example, some men practice polygamy because they don’t know that marrying a second spouse is punishable by six to eighteen months in jail,” she said, adding that even their wives, out of ignorance, do not report such cases.
Namara Mitali, a resident of Kimihurura sector in Gasabo District explained that some victims are afraid to bring cases of abuse forward because of cultural limitations.
“Where I come from, no woman is allowed to express her rights to challenge a man. They would rather bear any beatings that defy that culture.”
The GMO report acknowledged initiatives that help victims like the Isange One Stop Centre located at the Police hospital in Kacyiru.
Gender Desks have also been established in institutions like the Police and the Army and toll-free hotlines introduced to report crimes committed for urgent help.
The report was validated to be used by the GMO to develop programs for combating the GBV issue in the future.