The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: NGO Cites Increasing Gender Violence in Schools

Plan International Rwanda has cited school-based Gender Based Violence (GBV) as a phenomenon that limits schools' enrolment, undermines participation, performance and increasing absenteeism and drop-out.

Speaking at a public screening of GBV related films in Bugesera district, Plan Rwanda's Gender Specialist, Katherine Nichol said; "GBV typically results in girls and boys feeling violated and undervalued, often culminating in lowered self-esteem."

She noted that self-esteem is linked to achievement and performance in school, which in turn encourages enrollment and retention.

"The persistence of transactional sex or economically-coerced sex (sugar daddy/sugar mummy's phenomenon) is an example of a situation in which power imbalances can lead to girls or boys being exploited. Exploitation makes girl or boy feel like they have lost value or self worth," she said.

According to the 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey, 42.2 percent of women reported experiencing physical violence since the age of 15 and 22.3 percent reported experiencing sexual violence.

GBV is defined as any act that results in bodily, psychological, sexual or economic harm to somebody because of their sex.

Nichol said that some cultural beliefs do facilitate GBV

The government has made a commitment to fighting GBV through the development of comprehensive laws and policies but GBV still persists.

Speaking to The New Times, the executive secretary of Kamabuye sector of Bugesera district said that house chores resulting in school absenteeism is also a major cause of school dropout for the girl child.

He says recently at least six girls were found to have dropped out of school in Kamabuye.

"We are trying to reach their parents to see how to bring back those children to school...but we have learnt some of them ended up as commercial sex workers in Kigali and others were forced into early marriage," he said.

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