For years a lot has been said about gender based violence. There have been many attempts to explain the concept but, in simple language it is the violation of numerous international human rights.
Despite the fact that acts of gender based violence have existed since time immemorial, not many studies have been carried out to show a clear picture of the actual GBV prevalence in Rwanda.
The Regional Director of UNIFEM, Central Africa Regional Office, Josephine Odera recently revealed that most of the effort that has been geared towards fighting the vice has not been based on statistical data.
While Rwanda is yet to pass her GBV law, the new report from a baseline survey that was conducted on the vice, will certainly guide the implementation procedure of the law.
Evidence-based programming is the way to go if policies are to achieve their intended goal.
Post- genocide Rwanda is mainly characterised by victims of all kinds of violence of a sexual, physical and emotional nature.
Although we have so many organisations struggling to help the victims in the healing process, much more is still needed.
The baseline survey statistics that were revealed in the report did not only measure the magnitude of the phenomenon of sexual and gender-based violence but in a way they also suggested ways of dealing with the problem.
By relating to the statistics, they stand as a yardstick against which policy evaluation could be done.
In a number of ways the report shows that most Rwandan women are not aware of their rights. These women also do not institute legal proceedings for fear of exposing family secrets.
As much as we all have been aware of the existence of GBV against women at work places, it has not been very clear that most bosses actually inflict this violence.
Now that we have the evidence, it is not enough to discuss the depth at which this vice has penetrated our population. It is, in fact, good news that our policy makers can now begin tackling the most prevailing causes.
Women, who are also the most affected fraction of the population should be sensitised on the need to break the silence.
Fighting against this thorn in our flesh demands applying pressure on organs like the police, medical department, social services and others.
Poverty is also still a constraint, thus there is a need to increase the speed of women’s economic empowerment.
Survey’s clearly show that while many may be violated, at most the perception of GBV is in relation to the physical.
Most women succumb to financial and other forms of violence – not knowing that it is GBV. The report is also clear that most of the abuses perpetrated on women occur more within the marital situation.
This year’s theme for international women’s day aims at curbing the levels of GBV, especially against women.
Collective effort of all concerned institutions will significantly reduce prevalence levels and soon Rwanda will consider this vice a case of history.
Lowering GBV levels will certainly imply increase in women’s contribution to economic development as fighting the vice comes with economic independence.
Our population is our main resource so it is vital to value human rights as a way of improving livelihoods and focusing on the main goal – development.