The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), yesterday released the first survey report on sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Rwanda, at a function that took place in Kigali.
While addressing policymakers at the ceremony, the Regional Director of UNIFEM, Central Africa Regional Office, Josephine Odera, noted that the baseline survey has come as an opportunity to help fill the data gaps on sexual and GBV and as such it will support the implementation of the GBV law.
“It is part of our programme to have evidence-based programming and advocacy on sexual and GBV. Violence in post-Genocide Rwanda remains an area of concern but at the same time we recognise the efforts that have been made by government in terms of legal frameworks and practical steps towards fighting GBV,” she added.
The survey was carried out in collaboration with the Department of Applied Statistics of the National University of Rwanda (NUR) between September 2007 and June 2008. The study also focused on cases of GBV in the districts of Rutsiro, Kayonza, Ngororero and the City of Kigali.
During his presentation of the findings, Ignace Kabano, a consultant from NUR, highlighted the various categories of violence experienced by women in public places, in marital relationships, within family and familiar environments, including reactions of victims among others.
“About 28 percent of the women surveyed have been victims of insults or abuses. Out of 58 respondents, 86 percent had undergone forced or attempted sexual intercourse and the violence was mainly inflicted by their bosses,” said Kabano quoting from the report.
In relation to the reactions of the survivors or victims, the report also revealed that only 16 percent consulted a lawyer while10 percent consulted a physician of which only 36 percent were well received against 64 percent.
Findings also show that 9 percent (33 cases) became pregnant while 11 percent preferred to keep silent. 4.5 percent (17 cases) also declared to have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
Odera urged policy-makers to utilise the availed evidence to improve intervention in fighting GBV in Rwanda.
“Some issues in the report point to factors that we might have guessed but now there is evidence. For example, the culture of silence remains alarming despite efforts to break it so a lot more should be done.”
“Poverty is also a major cause of GBV that is why, as UNIFEM we work to increase economic security for women as a way of reducing GBV levels, and so far, it has made a big difference,” Odera added.
Various policymakers commended UNIFEM on the ‘informative achievement’ and pledged to use their positions of influence to bring a change to the prevailing GBV situation.