Finding a safe haven for domestic violence victims

The most admired heroes of any culture are those who have stood up to dictatorship and oppression and fought for liberty and justice.Yet rarely have these highly praised heroines battled alone, without any weapons of any sort.

The most admired heroes of any culture are those who have stood up to dictatorship and oppression and fought for liberty and justice.

Yet rarely have these highly praised heroines battled alone, without any weapons of any sort.

According to a report from the U.S Department of Justice, 2006, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk for intimate partner violence.

Domestic violence constitutes the willful intimidation in the form of physical or psychological assault, battering, sexual assault or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one family member, household member, or intimate partner against another.

Reports from the Rwanda’s police indicate that the top three Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases are defilement among the less than 18 year-olds which is recorded at 350 cases, physical violence at 111 and 94 rape cases in this year’s first quarter alone.

Earlier this month, a center was launched; a center for hope, security and growth. Child survivors of domestic and GBV have a new hope thanks to the Rwanda National Police, UNIFEM and the Imbuto Foundation.

The one stop GBV center is called Isange. This 20 roomed centre is located at the police hospital in Kacyiru. Isange will offer coordinated medical, legal and psycho-social services to violence survivors at no cost at all.

This is with the aim of improving service delivery, care and support to the survivors of GBV.

One noticeable thing in the hospital’s surrounding is the calm and welcoming atmosphere.

As the name Isange suggests, there is a feeling of welcome and freedom.

The Acting Commissioner General of Police, Mary Gahonzire told the New Times that the center will take care of preventing and managing GBV crimes.

“In a bid to curb GBV, the police started a project that aims at prevention, detection and management. The centre is an answer to both prevention and management.” Gahonzire said.

This is a first in Rwanda and unlike before where cases of rape victims not finding justice due to lack of enough evidence, due to the lack of immediate access to the hospitals and police posts, they can now access counseling wt the centre while the police carries on with investigations.

Domestic violence victims who have gone through intimidation, physical and emotional harm on a daily basis are affected in their daily lifestyles.

Some victims, because of the chronic nature of the violence, develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health disorder characterised by flashbacks, significant anxiety, depression and fatigue.

The center is offering cure for all this.

A research from UNIFEM and Rwanda National University indicated that violence survivors say that the court, police and hospitals are poorly located.

They are distant from many small communities and this discourages the victims from reporting.

Isange will be a safe haven for violence victims. This will prevent some women from being forced to go back home to their abusers due to the absence of any other alternative. The Isange center will protect them from further violence, as they investigate, and offer medical testing.

Living with domestic violence and all the degrading isolation and insults that go with it, women feel ashamed and unworthy of asking for help.

It is therefore important to remember that it is the abuser who made you feel this way, and that it is his or her behavior that is criminal and unacceptable, not yours.

The police have welcomed these clients and are ready to cure, protect, and prosecute the guilty.

With this, every woman’s right to equal protection of the laws and a right of expressing themselves freely will be exercised.

karuthum@gmail.com

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