Burundi Activists Defy Femicide as Africa Fights Gender Violence
As Burundian authorities turn a blind eye to the growing cases of violence and spousal murder, women's rights activists are increasingly vocal, writes Lorraine Josiane Manishatse for African Arguments.
Burundian culture describes the ideal spouse as 'Umukenyezi', the one who ties her loincloth on thorns and walks without flinching and without the outside world noticing her pain," according to its literal translation in Kirundi.
The burial of Aline Inarukundo, whose murder shook Bujumbura, took place on March 7, 2023. Her body was kept in the morgue for 47 days. The delayed burial was the result of a tug of war between her in-laws and her blood relatives ironically over the imprisonment of her husband, Claude Arakaza, who is suspected to be responsible for his wife's murder.
Pacifique Nininahazwe, a civil rights activist on social media says that the Attorney General was pressured by women's rights groups into authorizing Aline's burial.
A report in Kirundo province reveals that from 2022 to the present, eight women have been killed - two other women from Rumonge province, one from Kayanza, another from Mwaro, and one from Makamba - all killed since January 2023, murdered by their husbands or sexual partners.
The Seruka Center, a local NGO dedicated to assisting victims of gender-based violence has recorded 241 cases of rape victims from December 2022 to the end of February 2023. It also assisted 38 victims (including 37 women) of physical, emotional, and economic violence.
Although the perpetrators are sometimes punished, authorities apparently see no pattern in the incidence of violence. Burundi is a highly patriarchal society in which only 17.7% of women, who constitute the majority of the population, have access to land, the main source of income.
Former African Union's (AU) and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has urged African leaders move as a collective in efforts to curb the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) on the continent. Ramaphosa made the call in an address he delivered during a presidential high-level advocacy breakfast of the AU Gender Pre-Summit in Addis Ababa in February.