Rwanda’s women and girls suffered sexual violence as crimes of genocide during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Perpetrators of the Genocide employed sexual violence against women and girls as a brutally effective tool to humiliate nd subjugate their victims.
Since then, Rwanda has said Never Again. Prevention and accountability are in policy, in law, and in practice in Rwanda.
After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda started to advocate for sexual violence to be a crime of genocide and for the law to punish the perpetrators.
The Government of Rwanda is committed to an inclusive society, free from discrimination, and will continue to bolster our gender-sensitive laws and strategies.
Rwanda is committed to ensuring women’s representation in peacebuilding. Accountability for sexual violence is a key part of the training of Rwandan troops, who are currently serving in bilateral and United Nations peacekeeping missions.
We are investing in capacity building and education, and working to cascade transformative gender strategies aimed at transforming harmful negative masculinity that lead to violence against women and girls in any setting.
Rwanda is also committed to protecting and standing with victims of GBV, preventing stigma and enabling more access to meaningful and timely services for survivors through Isange One Stop Centers that have been established across the country.
Experiences show that, support for survivors of sexual violence should not be limited to the short-term, because trauma is often long-term and extends through generations.
It is, therefore, critical that we holistically address challenges associated with sexual violence.
The issue of conflict-related sexual violence in the Eastern part of DRC was misrepresented earlier at this conference. It is not helpful nor honest to point fingers at one single country as responsible for the very complex security challenges faced in that area, where more than 130 armed groups operate, some of them for more than 25 years.
While we condemn in the strongest possible terms the sexual violence perpetrated by these various armed groups as well as other actors, it is important that we do not use the suffering of the victims for political gains.
The best way to tackle this problem is by ensuring that all parties and partners support ongoing regional mechanisms and initiatives to bring back peace and stability in Eastern DRC.
This is an excerpt of a speech by Jeannette Bayisenge, Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, delivered Tuesday at the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict Conference in the UK.