The New Times
By Michel Nkurunziza
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.