KIGALI - Members of Parliament attending yesterday’s early morning session called on government and relevant institutions to eradicate all forms of violence in the family, which National Police reported to be on the increase.
The legislators who also marking the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence” that kicked off yesterday, were debating a 2005-08 report compiled by the Rwanda National Police on gender based violence.
The report revealed alarming cases of attacks against women including rape, defilement, corporal punishment as well as murder by their husbands.
Read aloud by Hon. Venerandi Nyirahirwa, the chilling report revealed that 259 wives were murdered by their husbands in the three years covered by the report.
During the same period, over 2000 cases of rape were reported to the police and there were almost 10,000 cases of defilement of children below the age of 18. The report however did not show statistics concerning gender based violence against husbands by wives.
Hon. Nura Nikuze said that sexual harassment was a major concern in the country.
“Sexual harassment at work places is common and needs to be addressed,” she urged.
She said that because of the stigma and cultural concerns surrounding the issue, many women were afraid to report cases to authorities.
She added that in some cases police officers were wont to tell married women that “your husbands beat you up because of your big heads, because of ‘emancipation’,” once they attempt to report their violent husbands to police.
Nura further appealed to the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG) to help in catering for the scholarship needs of children who were born as a result of rape during the 1994 Genocide.
Another MP said that the Rwandan population has to be sensitised on the Gender Violence Act recently passed by parliament. She wondered whether going by current figures, marriage was not overstated in the country.
“Is it extremely difficult for married couples in Rwanda to have a peaceful separation or divorce that they resort to murder, or is divorce abolished?” she asked.
The MPs’ debate on gender violence is part of ongoing national events that the government through the National Gender Cluster in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion along with the United Nations Fund for the Development of Women, have organised to cover the “16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence” campaigns in the country.