Last week, Rwanda hosted the global gender summit, at the Kigali Convention Centre. Among the numerous subjects discussed was gender-based violence.
Rwanda is justifiably hailed as a leading nation in the promotion of gender equality, second only to Scandinavian countries.
On day one of the two-day summit, the iconic Kigali Convention Centre dome was lit Orange, in step with the World’s Health Organisation’s “16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence”, and “Orange the World”, a colour that has been adopted in campaigns against gender-based violence.
It is rainy season in Rwanda, the heavens scowled for much of the two-day summit, and wept copiously, at humanity’s inhumanity to itself. And after the rains, the heavens too heeded the call to Orange the world, as the sun emerged against the dark clouds, in a show of support, before setting.
The Kigali summit started on 25th November, the day the International campaign that would last sixteen days, kicked off, ending on Human Rights Day, 10th December.
This year’s theme of “Orange The World: Generation Equality stands against Rape” focused on a crime that is committed against women and girls, in times of peace and war. The campaign called for more action to prevent, and end violence against women and girls.
Violence against women is an age-old, global problem. In Rwanda, 1 in 3 women experiences some form of violence, at the hands of male relatives, according to the UN Development Programme. This is despite the fact that Rwanda is one of the countries which show a sustained commitment to action, and prevention of violence against women. President Kagame is one of the ten Global “HeForShe” Impact Champions.
Across the WHO European region, 1 in 4 women are subjected to sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner, and it is estimated that 5% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than an intimate partner.
As well as being at a greater risk of death, and injuries, women who experience violence are also more likely to develop a number of other health issues, including mental health issues, such depression, self-harm, and suicide.
Healthcare professionals who are often the first contact with abused women are encouraged to adopt the LIVES approach:
L – Listen closely with empathy, without judging the victim
I – Inquire about what the victim needs.
V – Validate the victim’s experience, show interest and assure them they are not to blame.
E – Enhance the victim’s safety
S – Support and guide them to additional information, service and social support.
In Rwanda, as well as prosecuting the perpetrators, support for abused women includes a programme which offers free psychological, medical and legal services. The country is taking a zero-tolerance stand against gender-based violence.
“Men who abuse their wives should be brought to justice in the strictest form. Why should anyone tolerate violence against women? It never be tolerated” President Paul Kagame, told a political meeting.