High level meeting on the role of religious leaders in ending GBV

Gender-based violence is deeply rooted in gender discrimination and inequality, social norms, negative beliefs, and gender stereotypes. Given the devastating impact of gender-based violence on women and girls, efforts have focused mainly on the response and services for GBV victims. However, the best way to end gender-based violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its roots and underlying structural causes. And religious leaders are in a better position to prevent gender-based violence in our community than anyone.

Considering that prevention should start in our families, by educating, working with youth, promoting Rwandan values, gender equality, and positive parenting. Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH), in partnership with Oxfam-Rwanda, brought together government officials, international and local NGOs, religious leaders and other stakeholders to discuss on the role of religious leaders in addressing gender-based violence in Rwanda.

Photo: Group photo of religious leaders, ministerial representatives and Development partner

In his opening remarks, the Chairperson of the RICH Board of Directors, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda invited participants to find new approaches to prevent GBV in our communities.

Photo 2: The Archbishop of Kigali , Chairman of RICH adressing the participants

Working with families is the best way to faster and sustain efforts to prevent and eradicate gender-based violence. Minister of Gender and family planning, Ambassador Solina Nyirahabimana urges participants to invest in a more comprehensive approach to eradicate deep roots of gender-based violence, family conflicts by promoting positive parenting.

Photo 3: Minister of Gender and Family Planning, Amb. Solina Nyirahabimana  adressing the participants

As part of the CSRHR project implemented by RICH, in partnership with Oxfam, a study was commissioned in collaboration with the hospital in Kacyiru and carried out by a consultant from the University of Rwanda, School of Public Health. This survey focused on women under the age of 18 survivors of sexual violence in 7 Isange One-Stop Centers (IOSC) in Rwanda. The study covered the period from January 2018 to December 2018; the findings shows that 1951 victims were received in 7 hospitals (IOSC); Gisenyi 237, Gitwe 120, Kabgayi233, Kabutare 213, Kacyiru 900, Remera-Rukoma 138, Shyira 110. It shows that 67.95% were aged between 10-17 years, 19.41% were aged 5-9 year while 13% had less than 5 years old . The survey found out that 6% of the survivors were infected with STI, 1.6% with HIV and 0.5% with Hepatitis C.

Addressing participants; Oxfam country director, Mrs. Alice Anukur Uwase underlines that Rwanda has made considerable efforts to combat GBV; however, she also highlighted that this survey shows that there is still a long way to go to end GBV in our families and communities.

Photo 4: Oxfam-Rwanda, Country director, Mrs. Alice Anukur Uwase

During this high-level meeting; RICH and Oxfam-Rwanda official launched a Book entitled “Silent No More – Laying gender-based violence bare”; this book contains testimonies of 14 GBV survivors who are being supported by a Scottish Government-funded project (CSRHR Project).

Photo 5: Mrs. Alice Anukur, Minister Solina Nyirahabimana, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda during Official launch of a booklet of testimonies by GBV victims and a survey on GBV

Besides this, Minister Solina Nyirahabimana commended RICH contributions in eradicating gender-based violence in Rwanda.

In his closing remarks, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda, reminded all participants that GBV is one of the greatest evil affecting our families; and invited everyone to prevent GBV in the first place.

Ending GBV goes hand in hand with promoting gender equality. In this fight, it is not only the role of the government and different partners to ensure that we are all free from GBV, but it is rather the role of everyone to feel concerned and act to make our communities GBV free