The New Times (Kigali)

19 November 2012

Rwanda: Police Warns of Human Trafficking

Rwamagana — The police has warned about rising cases of trafficking of young girls from the country to neighbouring countries.

Superintendent Benoit Nsengiyunva, Spokesman of Rwanda National Police (RNP) Eastern Region, termed it a silent crime that was rewarding to those involved.

Nsengiyunva, who is also the Regional Police Judicial officer, disclosed this while addressing hundreds of district women leaders in Rwamagana yesterday.

He said that victims of human trafficking are ferried from schools and homes to Kigali and neighbouring countries.

"We have over 135 cases of girl child abuse and human trafficking is one of them. Defilement and sexual harassment is rampant in communities. Unfortunately, women rarely report such cases due to cultural restraints," he lamented.

He advised women not to remain slaves of traditional beliefs, adding that it was their responsibility as mothers to protect their daughters.

"Some parents refuse to reveal sex crimes against their daughters, to save them from public shame. In such circumstances, police can't get facts, which is a great disservice to the victims."

A teacher at Nyamata Catholic school in Bugesera District, who requested anonymity, reiterated the need to combat girl trafficking.

She said that the girls were lured by notorious sex pests in urban areas, adding that they leave school to pursue prostitution.

"We are witnessing various forms of girls' abuse. Some of our girls were taken in discreet areas in Kigali. The suspects were held by police and later released on grounds of lack of evidence. But it is indeed a big issue affecting our children," she said.

The Vice Mayor in charge social affairs in Bugesera District, Leonille Narumanzi, said that authorities were set to work with the police to crack-down on criminals.

He said that the issue needed a holistic approach that would include teaching girls how to take safety precautions.

"Even though some girls are just spoilt and taken by material things, others fall victims due to sheer naivety. We must equip them with tools to resist the traffickers, report them in time and be able to say no to friends that criminals use as middlemen," she said.

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