• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

The fight against GBV requires a combination of efforts from inhabitants and the entire community


Jun 21, 2024

BUJUMBURA, June 21st (ABP) –Gender-based violence is a reality everywhere in the world, in general and in Burundi, in particular. It constitutes a violation of fundamental human rights and affects all aspects of the protection and well-being of the person. It is committed in the community and the majority of victims who suffer from it live under the same roof as the alleged perpetrators, indicated Ms. Laetitia Twagirimana, director of the department responsible for the fight against sexual and gender-based violence, at the Ministry of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender, during an interview she granted to the ABP on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Bujumbura.

During this interview, Mrs. Twagirimana stated that the most observed types and forms of GBV include physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, socio-economic violence, and domestic violence.

Regarding the fight against GBV, she specified that every person must be involved because the fight against GBV requires a combination of efforts from the inhabitants and the entire community, from the local level (the village) to the highest level. Thus, opinion leaders, traditional and religious leaders, the media, the authorities and civil society have a crucial role to play. They can influence the populations and communities to bring about harmful behavior changes.

To fight this scourge, sanctions must also be applied to the perpetrators of GBV in accordance with the law. Awareness campaigns must also be conducted within the community so that it becomes aware of GBV, its causes, its consequences and the human cost it weighs on the country.

                                                              Dr Vigny Nimuraba, Chairman of the CNIDH

The challenges related to the fight against GBV, according to Ms. Twagirimana, are the persistent impunity due to the lack of information among the population, socio-cultural inertia and the constraint of silence or amicable settlement. It is also due to the non-application of regulatory texts and laws against forms of violence. She did not fail to point out irregularities related to the legislative framework and called for the revision of the penal code, the specific law and the code of persons and the family.

Regarding the protection of victims, witnesses and at-risk actors, Burundian law must take into account the protection of victims, witnesses and at-risk actors of GBV.

In addition, she stressed, the length of the procedures leads the victims to abandon their cases.

The actors in the fight against GBV at all levels are not sufficiently trained and do not have all the means to effectively fulfill their mission with the victims, she lamented.

H.J is a 34-year-old mother of 3 children. She lives on the Kirema village in the Kayanza commune and province. In her testimony to the ABP, she indicated that she was legally married. But after the marriage, her husband mistreats her daily. There are even days when he does not return and stays with his concubines. When he returns, he does not intervene in any family need. He even breaks what we have prepared as a meal. “I am beaten almost every day and told many times that he will kill me one day. I live with a heavy heart.” “One day, looking under the mattress we sleep on, I noticed that there is a hammer and a concrete iron, tools he has made available to kill me. I asked him why these tools are in our room. As an answer, he beat me seriously and took away my cell phone and tore the clothes I was wearing. I fled to my biological family, leaving the children with him. Now I live in torment because of the life of my children. I want to initiate the divorce process because it is impossible to cohabit with this man any longer.

Mrs. Gloriose Nyakuza, one of the care providers at the SERUKA Center, is in charge of the holistic care of GBV victims. She indicated to the ABP that this center provides comprehensive medical, psychological, legal and judicial assistance. She reported that women suffer more from GBV than men. She specified that the majority of victims who consult the SERUKA Center are women and girls, including minors under 18 years of age, accounting for 95%, and 5% for men and boys. The cases of GBV received by this center for the period 2017 to 2023 are 8,389 for women and 495 for men and 6,142 for minors under 18 years of age.

Among these cases, sexual violence ranks first and physical violence, including battered women, comes in second.

Regarding the consequences related to GBV, she cited school dropouts, lack of paternity in cases of sexual violence because there are cases where the perpetrators are unknown or caught, couple separations, etc.

According to the President of the National Independent Human Rights Commission (CNIDH), Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, GBV is one of the most serious human rights violations. These have serious consequences on the lives of victims and on social harmony. He did not fail to point out that the role of women leaders in the fight against this scourge is essential through the dissemination of law No. 1/13 of September 22 on the prevention, protection of victims and repression of GBV. Women leaders must take the lead in raising awareness, especially for girls and women, to systematically denounce any case of GBV and attempts at amicable settlement as well as the inaction of the actors in the criminal chain.

According to Mrs. Iyakaduhaye Estella, a psychologist, victims of GBV suffer from discrimination and stigmatization from the community. Thus, they feel guilty, especially in cases of sexual violence. Victims also experience a sense of uselessness, defilement, and poor self-esteem. They also experience insomnia, loss of appetite, and heart palpitations.

For psychological violence, the victim loses confidence in herself and in her abilities. Gradually, despair sets in, a passive acceptance of what is happening, she isolates herself, locks herself in her shame and no longer dares to take any initiative. This violence can lead to depression, alcoholism and even suicide.

For domestic violence, for example, a mother who is beaten at home feels regret for having agreed to marry this person.

Mrs. Iyakaduhaye advised victims of GBV to consult psychologists who will help them reduce post-traumatic stress and protect their mental health.

Regarding the challenges related to the care of GBV victims, she explained that in most cases, individual care is provided, whereas there was a need to also take care of the perpetrator, the community, an approach that works well and has not yet been extended throughout the country, because it requires a lot of resources. She also mentioned that there are poor victims who lack travel expenses to complete all the days of care.