Civil society groups as well as the Police have urged the public, especially parents, to be more vigilant after what they called a worrying trend of rape cases targeting children countrywide.
Police on Tuesday afternoon reported that, a nine year old girl was allegedly defiled by one Jean Pierre Bizimungu, 30, in Kyamanyoni Cell, Murindi Sector of Kayonza District.
The young girl had been alone at home when the incident occurred.
In another incident on the same day in Kamashagi Cell of Kamembe Sector, Rusizi District, a 13-year old girl was allegedly defiled by two men – Felix Nzacahimana, 28, and Cassian Nzeyimana, 34.
The victim did not survive the ordeal and was pronounced dead at Gihundwe Hospital.
On that same day, police reports say that Prosper Uwayezu, 29, a third year SFB student allegedly raped a 15-year old Primary Five pupil at Des Amis Primary School in Kigali.
Earlier, on Sunday, Eric Habimana, 30, from Musanze District was detained after Ugandan police alerted their Rwandan counterparts that he was on the run after allegedly raping an eight-year old daughter of one Samuel Habyarimana, a friend he had previously visited in Uganda.
All suspects are in custody as investigations continue.
“Everyone should be more vigilant, in particular, parents should not to leave their young children unaccompanied at all times. But apart from the ongoing awareness campaign, we have worked on effective justice as it is also a deterrent to such criminals,” said Police Spokesperson, Theos Badege.
The deputy Chief Gender Monitor, Eugenie Kabageni, said parents should increase efforts in ensuring their children’s safety, especially “by knowing where they are and with who” all the time.
Kabageni said that the community, too, should take the matter as their own, in addition to collaboration from all local authorities.
She pointed out that evidence gathering is particularly difficult as parents may delay in reporting cases, a situation that may result in setting culprits free. According to her, information on child defilement must always be given due attention, and quickly.
The Police have put in place punitive and preventive measures as well as care and support for victims.
They have an anti- Gender Based Violence (GBV) Directorate to deal with such issues in addition to the establishment of Isange one-stop centre, to improve service delivery, care and support to victims.
According to Transparency Rwanda's Chairperson, Marie Immaculee Ingabire, Isange one-stop centre, has been of great help as it helps victims get assistance – including treatment and counselling to restore victims’ self-confidence – fast and effectively.
Ingabire advised victims to report incidents, immediately, and preferably not bathe or wash off evidence before seeing a doctor in 48 hours.
Child defilement statistics reported to the Police from 2009 to June 2011 indicate a slight increase in number.
There were 1,570 reported cases in 2009 and 1,654 cases in 2010, while this year, between January to June, 742 cases were reported.