The New Times (Kigali)

26 November 2010

Rwanda: Minister Rallies Community Support in Fighting GBV

Gisagara — The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Dr Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, on Thursday, launched "16 days of activism" in Gisagara District, calling for more efforts from the community in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

The international event is celebrated annually to create awareness against gender-based violence.

Mujawamariya called on residents of the district to be on the look out for any suspected cases of GBV and report them to relevant authorities.

"You should speak out against any case of GBV in your communities, you should keep a watchful eye on what happens to your neighbour and ensure timely reporting of such cases for investigation," she told residents of Muganza Sector.

Muganza Sector has registered tremendous progress in scaling down cases of GBV through local initiatives. Residents have established a special intervention team which is called in to intervene in suspected cases of GBV.

Members of these teams have been equipped with mobile telephones which they use to communicate to law enforcement organs in case of suspected crime.

The Sector has also established a special evening for women, where they meet and discuss issues they are faced with, including conflicts within their homes.

This year's campaign is being marked under the theme: "Strengthen the collaboration of the security organs, population and other instances in ending all forms of violence against women."

Dr. Mujawamariya also noted that fighting GBV goes in tandem with fighting illiteracy and poverty, noting that the two are major causes of conflict in homes.

She warned against sending children, especially girls, on night errands and called for the legalisation of marriages as one way of ensuring harmony amongst couples and their children.

Citing the Land Law, MP Winifried Niyitegeka noted that a number of laws have been enacted in support of the fight against GBV.

"Most of the complaints that we receive are land related. We need cooperation from all stakeholders to ensure that this and other laws are applied," she said.

Figures from the Rwanda National Police indicate a remarkable decrease in reported cases of GBV.  A Police report states that 1,345 GBV cases were reported in 2010, compared to 2,033 in 2006. It also shows that 264 rape cases were reported this year, down from 403 in 2006.

The report also indicates that 16 women were killed by their spouses between 2007 and 2009 while 35 women were killed in 2006 alone.

The event was preceded by the construction of houses for three vulnerable women and cultivation of cassava on over five hectares of land.

According to Franklin Murangira, from Care International- one of the partners in the campaign, discussions and sensitisation exercises will continue at village level and 171 couples are expected to formalise their marriages during this period.

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