The long-awaited special law against Gender Based Violence (GBV) is expected to be published in the next two weeks, Cabinet Affairs Minister Charles Murigande revealed yesterday.
The law of prevention and punishment of GBV is now in the phase of promulgation after both chambers of parliament passed it last year. Many activists have been pushing for its publication to reduce cases of gender based violence in the country.
Murigande said that the reason that delayed the publication of this law is that it took time for the Ministry of Justice to review and translate into different languages all the laws that were passed by parliament before the dissolution of its lower Chamber last year.
Parliament was dissolved mid last year after the expiration of its mandate to pave way for the elections that were held in September last year.
He said that about 55 laws were submitted in a short period last year and the law against GBV is probably among the remaining seven laws that will be published soon.
“What I can promise is that it will be published next…I believe in two weeks maximum,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
The new law defines and penalises different forms of gender based violence that were not previously provided for in ordinary laws. It is expected to especially protect women and children victims of violent behaviours afflicted against them, specialists say.
“There are things that were not punishable, like rape among spouses that was ignored by our laws,” explained Aimable Nibishaka, a Member of Parliament (MP) who has been on the parliamentary committee on gender.
A report covering cases of GBV since 2005 up to 2008 by the Rwanda National Police revealed alarming cases of attacks against women including rape, defilement, corporal punishment as well as murder by their husbands.
It pointed out that during the last three years, 259 wives were murdered by their husbands, over 2,000 cases of rape were reported to the police, and there were almost 10,000 cases of defilement of children below the age of 18.
Many campaigns against GBV were carried out in the country late last year and most of the activists urged for the publication of the new law.
“This law is urgently needed given the problems in place,” one of the activists against GBV who is also among top officials in the Ministry of Justice told The New times yesterday.
An official in charge of inspecting Courts and Tribunals in the country said last October that close to 600 cases of people seeking divorce had appeared in twelve provincial courts of the country between January and July 2008 and most of their claims were related to violence against women.