Rwanda: Relationship between Violence Against Women and Organised Crime

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While joining the UNO global campaign aimed at ending violence against women and girls, the government of Rwanda has emphasized on the relationship between violence against women and organized crime. The disclosure was made in Kigali, Rwanda yesterday during the launch of the Interpol ‘Turn Back Crime’ global campaign, during which the government of Rwanda called for cooperation between the public and security agencies in the fight against crime.

Geographically located in the sometimes volatile region of East Africa, surrounded by countries like Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, where the nefarious activities of the rebels sometimes pose a security headache to innocent citizens and violence against women, an order of the day, the government of Rwanda is not taking security challenges lightly. Moreover, after the genocide, the Rwandan government has taken unprecedented steps to stamp out crime and make peace, security and economic progress a top priority. The result is evident throughout the country, where one is welcomed with robust economic growth, infrastructural development and impenetrable security. With the annual illicit income of about $870bn ( £560bn) from organized crime, according to the UNO estimate, Rwanda has become the third country in Africa to launch the campaign to not only create awareness of the evil of organised crime, the country is doing all it can to eradicate the crime, which evidently leads to violence against women and girls. It is a well known fact to the Rwandan government that crime acts as an impediment to economic development, so Kigali is leaving no stone unturned in its effort to eradicate crime

Marking the end of the two-day Kigali International Conference Declaration (KICD) Annual General Assembly, graced by 40 African countries, which focused on the best ways to eliminate violence against women and girls by the security apparatus, the Kigali government collaborated with the Interpol in a campaign termed “Turn Back The Crime against women and girls.” which coincided with the beginning of the 16 Day Activism on ending violence against women and girls.

“We will not defeat gender-based violence unless we mobilise the whole society. Prevention is what Interpol’s ‘Turn Back Crime’ is about. It is about enabling everyone to take necessary steps to understand crime and stay away from it. In fact, this campaign is about empowering each one of you to help prevent crime. It is about you, your family, business and the community.”Alison Bernard, the Interpol communications officer, who was speaking on the occasion emphasized.

The statistics available has shown that women form a bulk of victims of gender based crimes. From forced prostitution to physical abuses, sexual harassment and human trafficking, to mention just a few examples, women form 80 per cent of the victims, while 70 per cent of the victims of this villainous crime are innocent girls. Corroborating these findings, the coordinator of the National Council Of Women Society in The Netherlands (NCWS), Vivian Iro – Uchime, lamented that despite the seriousness of human trafficking and the miserable blink future of the human trafficking victims ““ mostly women ““ many governments have not devoted enough resources to fight the heinous crime which, according to her, has eaten deep into the fabric of the society.

“It is a latent but devastating crime, committed by heartless and fastidious individuals, who end up destroying the future of their victims.“ Vivian Uchime, whose organization, has been working tirelessly to, amongst others, fight human trafficking amongst women, lamented.

Supporting Vivian Uchime`s assertion, the Commissioner for Community Policing in Rwanda, Assistant Commissioner of Police Damas Gatare, explained that many female victims of what she called “modern day slavery“ are trafficked to Europe, Asia and Malaysia for sexual and other exploitative goals. With her country often used as a transit route by traffickers, Damas Gatare said Rwanda authorities are working round the clock to thwart this illicit business.

But Damas Gatare is not alone in trying to eradicate human trafficking, Police spokesperson Chief Supt. Celestin Twahirwa believes that creating social awareness at the grassroots level would help sensitize the public on the danger of the crime as well as empower them to prevent the crime.

Perhaps, the best campaign should start from the family and involve our change of social cognition and gender consciousness. If we could change our gender perception and sex role stereotypes, we might go a step forward in eradicating our ideology, which regards women as second class citizens, as such must be subordinated. This attitudinal change will go a long way in eradicating violence against women.