"The problem of violence against women in Rwanda, as with many African countries, is rooted in the cultural beliefs and notions of masculinity reinforced through generations," says Peace Ruzage, CEO of Aspire Rwanda, a Kigali-based NGO providing free vocational skills to vulnerable women. (The Guardian)
Global Gender Gap Index Rank: 5 (World Economic Forum, the Global Gender Gap Report 2016.)
In 2008, Rwanda became the first and only country in the world to have majority female representation in its parliament a 56%. However, in spite of its impressive report card on female political empowerment, Rwanda is far from being a safe place for women. The country with a population of 11 million (52% of which is female) continues to have one of the highest incidences of gender-based and domestic violence in Africa. (The Guardian)
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), one in every three Rwandan women has experienced or continues to experience violence at the hands of her male relatives – mainly father and husband. Estimates released by Rwanda's Gender Desk in 2011 showed that up to 93% of the victims of physical and psychological abuse were women. (The Guardian)
The psychological and medical consequences on women victims of sexual violence have deeply affected women’s self-confidence and self-esteem. (Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy)
"The government has since introduced several laws to empower women including giving them inheritance rights, running sensitisation campaigns specifically targeting men and making domestic violence a serious crime," says Edouard Munyamaliza, RWAMREC's executive secretary. (The Guardian)
Such laws include: Law no. 59/2008 that introduces a range of new provisions with regard to gender-based violence. It criminalizes marital rape, stating that "it is forbidden to make sex with one's spouse without their consent." Law No. 33bis/2003, states that against the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, rape and other forms of violence could constitute a "crime against humanity." Law 27/2001 also states that the rights and the protection of children against violence includes provisions on the protection of children from sexual violence (section 2, articles 33-37) and forced marriage (section 6, articles 47-50).
Furthermore, in February 1997, the dissemination of information on violence against women through the radio, newspaper articles and interviews, and fund-raising for medical supplies. In cooperation with WHO, the Ministry of Health is also operating a National Trauma Centre in Kigali, established in 1995, which provides an integrated mental and social rehabilitation programme based on public health principles for survivors of the genocide. The Trauma Centre, through its national and international staff, provides professional counselling and has outreach teams in all prefectures and, in its social programmes, is supported by the Ministry of Gender, Women and Social Affairs. The Ministry of Health also sponsors an HIV/AIDS Counselling Centre where free testing and counselling are available and the right to privacy respected. (Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy) The state also coordinates effort with local and international organizations to battle GBV and its effects in the Rwanda society.
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