The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion in partnership with the United Nations Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF) held a roundtable with community elders to discuss violence against children.
The meeting was a pre-session of a two-day conference on Violence Against Children (VAC) scheduled to take place early next month.
The forum attracted elderly experts in culture, most of whom have lived in Rwanda since the monarchical period.
Mzee Ezra Mpyisi, a senior Adventist Pastor said that it was important to establish a team to reprimand people who violate and abuse children.
“The team will sensitise people who abuse children and instill into the society cultural traits. With the history that befell our country, a lot was affected and amends should be made to protect the younger generation,” Mpyisi said.
He and his team of elders under the Inteko Izirikana Association,’ pledged to share the history and cultural beliefs which helped protect children.
Another association member, Mzee Eric Gasana pointed out that it is important for children to learn the Rwandan culture.
“There should be culture teachers in schools. These will ensure that the children are raised with cultural traits when they become parents, they won’t violate their child’s rights,” Gasana advised.
During the discussion, it was pointed out that the society‘s stereotyping have contributed to violence against children. Highlighted was young girls who abandon their children born out of unwanted pregnancies as the society deems them to be misfits for having children out of marriage.
According to Marie Immaculee Ingabire, the Chairperson of Transparency Rwanda, parents, at times violate their children’s rights unknowingly.
“We make choices for our children without considering what they want, for instance, letting them follow our religious denomination,” Ingabire said.
Article 20 of the Law on the Rights of the Child and Protection of Children against Violence, stipulates that a child may not be subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
Last year, 1,654 children were sexually abused and 47 children were abandoned by the families, according to National Police statistics.