dinsdag, december 23, 2014

Rwanda: Call for Proper Preservation of Evidence in Sexual Crime; Treat house-helps with courtesy, says official

There is still need for concerted efforts to contain sexual abuse in the country, especially cases involving children.

This was said yesterday by the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa.
Gasinzigwa was speaking during a national advocacy conference that brought together several women groups within the Great Lakes Region to discuss how best they can improve service delivery to victims of sexual crimes.

CSP Maurice Murigo, from Rwanda National Police (RNP), said between January and November this year, 1,324 children were defiled, 227 were raped while indecent assault was committed against seven children.

In Ruhango District, cases of sexual abuse increased from 16 in 2013 to 30 in 2014, while in Gatsibo District, they increased from 40 to 71, according to Cocafem, a women advocacy organisation operating in the two districts.

Police say all cases require primary evidence for investigation to succeed.
"We need scientific, physical, medical and oral evidence and all this is needed in its primacy.
That is why if a child is sexually abused, the clothes, condoms, medical reports that also contain primary evidence must be well conserved so as to help prosecution," CSP Murigo said.

The packaging of the evidence, delayed reports or even cases that are not reported at all as well as issues of chain of custody are some of the challenges.

Claude Kabutware, the representative of Cocafem, said they have put in place measures to train leaders and the public on how to help victims of sexual abuse and proper preservation of evidence.
He said they also provide psychological, medical, legal and economic support to the victims.
Other challenges are caused by hospitals that still charge for medical tests while others lack private rooms for the victims.

Justine Mukamwezi, from Rwanda Got Justice, a non-profit organisation based in Huye District, said in conjunction with police, they provide emergency transport to victims of sexual abuse.
She says they also carry out forensic interviews where a child freely narrates the incidence which greatly facilitates the investigation.

Mukamwezi said after establishing that house helps commit at least 13 per cent of the sexual crimes against children, they have embarked on sensitising employers and house helps against such acts.
Minister Gasinzirwa said the government is committed to preventing gender based violence as well as supporting the victims of sexual crimes.

"We have developed nine Isange One Stop Centres across the country and, by the end of next year, we will have added another 17 centres with minimum standards where police and psychologists will be deployed to provide the required aid," she said.

The minister added that five 'safe houses' will also be constructed across the country to receive the victims after leaving the centre for recovery before rejoining their families.

Treat house-helps with courtesy, says official


Athan Tashobya
House-helps should be treated with courtesy and love as one of the ways to curb child abuse and domestic violence, Christine Umuhire, the director of family promotion and protection at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, has said.

“We find a housemaid in almost every homestead around the city; other households have more than one, they are part of the family and they deserve as much love and respect as every member of the family. This will reduce risks of violating their rights as well as improving peace in the family,” said Umuhire, adding that this also reduces the risk of the house helps abusing the children that are left in their care.
She was speaking at the advocacy and capacity building meeting for domestic workers organised by Association for the Defence of Human Rights, Sustainable Development and Family Welfare (ADBEF).

Training housemaids

The meeting was held at Kimisagara One Stop Youth Employment and Productive Centre in Nyarugenge District, yesterday.

Umuhire said some housemaids are psychologically, emotionally or financially abused by their employers and some decide to turn their frustrations to the younger members of the family or children, rather than confronting their bosses.

“We are against any form of violence,” Muhire said, adding that, “housemaids should speak up against any violence experienced in homes where they work, rather than turning their frustration to innocent young ones,” the family protection and promotion director said.

Through the support of Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and UNDP Rwanda, ADBEF is training domestic workers on reproductive health, family planning, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/Aids.

Lyhotely Ndagijimana, the chairperson of the ADBEF, said most of housemaids are not privileged enough to have had parental care, thus having differing behaviors that would at times influence them to make errors of judgment.

“We should understand that the majority did not go to school or grew up in secondary homes (not with their parents). They deserve love and compassion to grow into better people,” said Ndagijimana.

The month-long training of housemaids, which begins January, will benefit about 220 housemaids from three sectors of Nyakabanda, Kimisagara and Gitega.

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