By: DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire
Gender Experts explains that there are four types of Gender Based violence namely, sexual violence, physical Violence, psychological and economic violence.
According to Nkundimfura Rosette, the Gender Mainstreaming Officer in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) “A number of Rwandans have misunderstood the concept of Gender” while at the same time others are not able to describe which form of the violence they have faced.
Nkundimfura who was training media practitioners on GBV reporting on Tuesday explained that GBV has about four types namely, sexual violence, physical violence, psychological violence and economic violence.
It could be hard to find solutions and responses to GBV if a citizen or a leader is not aware about the real meaning of GBV.
Muhongerwa Agnes who heads the GBV Unit at the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) also added that “GBV is a crosscutting issue.”
She added that “People are not able to distinguish Gender and sex.”
From this side, Muhongerwa noted that “People who have faced GBV might be in a position to clearly explain what happened to them based on their ages.”
This week TOPAFRICANEWS.COM Journalist went down to the field to better understand how really at the grassroots level the GBV is understood and what are the most cases recorded in order to understand the magnitudes of GBV cases in the rural areas.
However the main focus was put on violence against Women and Girls as a big number of GBV cases recorded so far were committed against women and Girls.
This website’s reporter visited inhabitants of different villages in the two sectors of Bugarama and Nzahaha in Rusizi District, one of the Districts of Rwanda where cultural barriers are ranked among the sources of GBV mostly targeting women.
For the community of Bugarama and Nzahaha Sectors, their responses showed that the most form of violence known in the area is Forced Sex and acts, but centered on sex more specifically sexual relations including forced sexual intercourse as an act made by the male sex against the female sex.
Women in the area are not hiding their emotions on the increasing number of violence committed against them but went unresolved due to what they are calling “Culture of impunity.”
The Bugarama citizens’ responses analysis showed that there is a gap in awareness at the grassroots level on Gender Based Violence in general which is similar to the previous views provided by the experts.
Though women are able to clearly express their problems, it is clear that families in the area have many unnoticed cases by local leaders, hence there is a need for officials to go down to village and even to the family level as a way of preventing future uncontrollable cases.
The Interviewees was randomly selected to avoid misleading information.
Most of the respondents answered based on their cases a number of them focus on child defilements and cases of women harassments, Alcoholism among men, rhetorical abuse against women and adultery among others
Local leaders also believed that there is a significant reduction of GBVs cases which is a contradiction to the findings of Rwanda Investigation Bureau through Isange One Stop Centre where officials said “Since the launch of GBV awareness campaigns more people have started to file or report their cases which is very different from the past.”
However, based on the citizens answers, it does not mean that there are no campaign activities to eradicate GBV among citizens, but then again what is clear is that it is necessary to put in place possible solutions that are responding to the untold ordure of women and girls in Bugarama Sector.
During an interview with Topafricanews.com, the official in charge of social affairs who is also the focal person on family issues, Hakizimana Ephrem dismissed almost all concerns raised by citizens of the sectors.
For Hakizima GBV cases have slashed down while at the National level the numbers of such cases are increasing.
Available statistics show that GBV cases reported to National Prosecution level between 2016-2017, about 2286 defilements cases were committed by 2030 men while women was 62 in 2017.
During that time the conviction rate was 1355 convicted men while women’ rate stood at 29. In the same period the prosecution lost 246 cases of child defilements.
For the period of 2017- until recently the number of GBV cases has increased not only cases related to defilements but also to other cases that are seen among GBV types.
“In 2017-2018 the defilement cases have increased from 2286 to 20996,” Said Muhongerwa Agnes Head of GBV Unit at NPPA.
Increasing GBV cases in Bugarama due to Impunity
According to testimonies it is clear that there is ongoing increase of GBV cases in Bugarama sectors which come in various form to the extent that some women said have reached the point of committing serious crimes as results of endless harassments by their husbands.
Interviews responses showed the other side of the crises which is very different from the local leaders stand.
Family conflicts affect children’ wellbeing
For Kwizera Jean Baptiste, 23 years old, conflicts between father and mother can have negative consequences to children and especially to women who are mostly vulnerable comparing with men.
He narrated how his father got into arguments with his mother and ended up with separation while he was a child.
Kwizera said “My father married another woman and since then my mother has chosen to leave my father who has been mistreating her for a long time.”
“Many people have the same problem like mine. However for me I am the one who is facing consequences inherited from my parents’ separation which was due to family conflicts.”
Poor Education leading to GBV
Though this website has not gone into deep investigation on the contribution of education in ending GBV cases, it was observed that as the number of teenagers who are going to school is increasing it will help in reduction of such cases and even make citizens have critical thinking on what can jointly be done as solution.
Dukuzimana Olivier is a 23 years old O’ Level students. He told this website’s reporter that “When we talk about Violence against Women and girls, I understand various things which include beating them, Forced Sex, being denied rights to education…”
He included also early marriage to girls as another form of violence against female that must be stopped.
In past years the World Bank conducted various researches whose results have shown that the negative consequences of lack of education are visible throughout a woman’s life.
“An uneducated girl is less capable of making her own family planning decisions,” Said Isabel Santagostino (International Legal Studies in Gender and the Law and Human Rights) in her blog post available on World Bank website.
Similar to Dukuzimana responses, Isabel also believed that a child bride is more likely to face health issues and psychological distress, and her children are more exposed to malnutrition and illiteracy.
She emphasized that Education, thus, is fundamental vehicle to end violence against women
Alcoholism and Adultery among Men in Bugarama
Also the women interviewed during the visit to Bugarama revealed that Men in the area are Alcoholics and a number of them are committing adultery unpunished.
Mukankusi Velena, 34 years old said that “There is violence which comes in the form of abusing the rights of women, rape and forced sex with women and girls. That is violence.”
She continued to explain her family problem where her husband wastes money through alcoholism and adultery and that has aggravated the family wellbeing adding that she is very tired to always be harassed by a man whom, she says, ” I no longer see him as my husband”.
She also added that her husband has been threatening to kill her and she has reported her case to local leaders whom she says are promoting injustice which is also contributing to the increased number of violence against women in the area.
Mukankusi warned that her husband has informed her that he will kill her otherwise Mukankusi who is being victimized choose to hang herself.
Mukankusi managed to build her own house but the man told her that she has no rights to that house. She told TOPAFRICANEWS.COM
Need of Fair Justice and concerns of Forced Family Planning
As an observation their conflicts have been there for a long time which means that there is a need for more GBV sensitization campaigns and to render justice to women who are facing Gender related violence.
However, additionally, women in Bugarama said they are being mistreated by local leaders and Health centers who are denying them some services unless they are using family planning method available at the Hospital.
According to Uzayisenga Josee, 30 years old “We have a very serious problem of forced family planning where women are being victims of the birth control methods.”
Uzayisenga narrated how many women in the area are bearing impacts inherited from the official enforcement of using birth control methods which include use of pills or another method of “Agapira” Diaphragm Birth control method which they said “The methods is very dangerous” to our health.
Uzayisenga said “Women here are facing this type of violence which is endangering our lives by experiencing blooding from sex and this almost affecting all women who have been forced to use that method in the area.”
Men also said they are not any more being attracted by their wives because of bad smells due to, they said, “The Birth control method which being used in the area is having untold negative impacts to our ladies”
They added that some are not even able to access services unless they use the method.
“We want our leaders to come up with another method which is not causing harms to our lives.” Uzayisenga Said.
Uzamukunda Sarah, 25 years old rather than explaining what GBV is in General she preferred to respond by using her case “My child has been raped by a 20 year old boy.”
“I reported the case and he was arrested.
“However he was later released without even knowing when they have released him” Uzamukunda said
“When my husband knew about his release he investigated to know why the boy has been released and that time my husband was told by someone that the boy despite being released he is under police watch.” She added.
She narrated that she has all information about the escape of that boy whom he said he is living freely in Kigali.
Uzamukunda wants justice in this case and if not that, it is a kind of promoting the violence against women.
Old People said “Girls are making tricks to gain money”
It is not in Bugarama only where such views are expressed during some cases that involve for example sexual abuse to girls who have fewer than 18.
In courts also suspects say their accusations most of the times are fabricated for some hidden agendas.
It is the same view with some old men in Bugarama with another side of explaining the violence against women and girls.
They agree that a 7 year old girl can be raped but “I can’t understand how a 17 year’s old can be raped by a 20 years old boy,” said Buhembwa Bosco, 78 years old.
“These are tricks that are being used by girls in order to gain money from the accused.”
Nearby community try to sort out all GBV forms
Apart from Bugarama Sector, there is also Nzahaha Sector which is neighboring with Bugarama.
Recently a man in Nzahaha raped his own girls and caused extremely dangerous scars to the victim’s sex.
Contrary to his colleague from Bugarama, the Social Affairs of Nzahaha Sector Philippe Ngirente confirms that GBV cases are increasing.
It is clear that there is a difference of sorting out and preventing GBV cases between Nzahaha and Bugarama.
In Nzahaha citizen mobilization and sensitization on GBV are on high level comparing to other sector.
Ngirente said that cases found in the sector related to land conflicts, body harms, sexual harassments and psychological violence.
“We have put in place various initiatives that highly contribute to the cohabitation among the families.” Ngirente said.
“Among the programs there are Umugoroba w’Ababyeyi, Couple discussions and Bridal education and youth discussions.”
Ngirente assume that citizens have understood the GBV concept at 86%.
Murekatete Dative is a resident of Nzahaha Sector.
She said that they undergo various educational sessions where they get explained all forms of Gender violence.
Though she immediately understand the GBV as only Forced Sexual intercourse but, Murekatete at least believed that most of the cases can be sorted out at the village level if there is such programs through which citizens can work together to prevent the occurrence of GBV.
Rwandan Law Punishes GBV
Law No 59/2008 of 10th September 2008, on the Prevention and Punishment of Gender-Based Violence provides for the protection and relief of victims of violence; remedies for the punishment of perpetrators of domestic violence; procedures and guidelines to be followed by courts in relation to punishment, protection and compensation of victims of violence.
Also provides for several women friendly measures brought up by the law, clear definition and expansion of the notion of rape…
All women interviewed want justice to be rendered as a solution to their unheard victimhood.
Failure to address this issue now may also entail significant costs for the future. Numerous studies have shown that children growing up with violence are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of violence in the future. It is time to break this cycle not only in Bugarama but also in other areas of the country.
One characteristic of Violence against women and Girls is that it knows no social or economic boundaries:
According to World Bank this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries, and affects women of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner, 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence and Globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner.564