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RWANDA: Creating Financial Independence to Fight Domestic Violence

Source: The New Times
She spends the whole day at home taking care of the children and getting involved in the kitchen and garden work.

This simply means the harassment and beating comes due to the misconception that wealth or everything in the home belongs to the husband

This does not mean that she does not contribute to the development of her home, but puts her in a position that she has to entirely depend on her husband for financing the day-to-day activities of the home..

"It becomes very hard for a wife to take decisions in a home since her stand economically does not make an impact," says Enock Nkurunziza, Executive Secretary of the Youth Association for Human rights Promotion and Development (AJPRODHO).

He explains that some men take this as the first qualification for them to oppress their wives something he says eventually results into gender based violence in homes.

According to him, husbands or men will in most cases value a wife or women who are able to economically contribute to the welfare of their families.

"Findings of our research indicate that wives with no income are more vulnerable to GBV than those with an income meaning that; if women are empowered so that they can work, there is a possibility that GBV crimes can reduce especially in rural areas," he observes.

Recently, the organization released a report that indicated that among other causes, poverty is the key factor that has led to families into GBV crimes.

The survey that was conducted in the districts of Kayonza, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kicukiro, Gasabo, Nyarugenge and Karongi, Rusize, Nyamasheke, Nyanza, Huye and Gisagara, indicated that women have been beaten by men as a result of quarrelling over the use of the meager wealth owned by the household.

"This simply means the harassment and beating comes due to the misconception that wealth or everything in the home belongs to the husband especially if it's that person who bought it," he said.

He noted that although a lot has been done in sensitizing the public about their rights, there is still need to intensify the campaign, adding that it is evident that some women's rights are still being violated but they fear to report such crimes.

The rate at which gender related crimes are reported has increased, and according to the Gender Monitoring Office, this is attributed to the nation wide campaigns in educating the public about their rights.

In the beginning of this year, the Rwanda National Police indicated that Gender Based Violence (GBV) related crimes increased by over 4.6 per cent last year to 3,585, up from the 3,427 registered in the previous year.

The police report put Kigali city on top of the list with 887 registered cases in 2011, but this decreased by 6.1 per cent from the 945 cases recorded in 2010.

The Eastern Province had 860 cases, Southern and Western provinces with 734 and 592 cases respectively, while the Northern Province with 513 cases filed the least offences.

Among the GBV crimes, defilement recorded 1,733 cases in 2011, up from 1,654 registered in the previous year. Assault and rape with 543 and 287, respectively followed.

"We need more assurance from the responsible parties in the fight against GBV cases about the safety of our families in case we report; what we need is to make sure that our partners can change; not having our families broken apart or husbands arrested," says Aline Uwamahoro, a resident of Rweru Sector in Bugesera district.

Residents in the Sector say that the campaigns to educate them about their rights in regard to GBV are paying off, but still some noted that GBV crimes should be handled in a manner that protects their homes.

This was during an event organized by the Health Development Initiative (HDI) to further educate the population about human rights to fight GBV crimes as well as preventing the spread of HIV/Aids.

According to Nkurunziza, his organization's survey also aimed at checking on how GBC cases are handled in the courts of law.

"The way these cases are handled should be given priority to make sure that GBV victims can get justice," he says.

He observes that if these cases take long without being handled, the victims are most likely to lose out