The New Times (Kigali)

25 November 2012

Rwanda: Govts Urged to Intensify Fight Against Women Violence

The UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet has called on governments to employ effective means to fight violence against women and girls.

In her message to mark the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women that is marked on November 25, Bachelet said governments need to demonstrate more efforts and commitment to curb the violence.

She said that while a total of 125 countries had come up with laws that penalise domestic violence, she insisted that this was inadequate basing on the number of women victims of violence.

"We all must do better to protect women and prevent this pervasive human rights violation. Governments and leaders must lead by example. Now is the time for governments to translate international promises into concrete national action," Bachelet said.

She said that it was possible to end violence against women but noted that seven out of ten women are targeted for physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. She added that 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime.

She added; "We count on education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls. We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces."

A new initiative that calls for governments to commit to fighting women violence was also launched.

UN Women says that there are various mechanisms that can be employed to combat women violence, including passing or improving existing laws, launching of public awareness campaigns, free legal aid to survivors and supporting education programmes that address gender stereotypes and violence among others.

In an interview with The New Times, the coordinator of Gender Mainstreaming at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Christiane Umuhire, noted that in addition to government's effort to enforce the Gender Based Violence Law and the One Stop Centre that offers care for victims of gender based violence, her ministry had also developed educative programmes on GBV.

She lauded the Family Campaign, saying it had played a big role in educating family members countrywide about the need to peacefully resolve differences.

Umuhire explained that the campaign has indeed helped in preventing Gender Based Violence that has in the past resulted into women violence and divorce.

The campaign that kicks off from September to November every year creates a platform through which officials at the Gender Ministry and other stakeholders sensitise or educate the general public and families about their rights as a way of combating women violence among others.

Through the campaign, couples tell stories about their current family situations. Interventions are then made if necessary and that this contributes to resolving of issues amicably.

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