Governments and other actors must mobilise all the necessary resources to decisively end violence against women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations, the Chief of Defence Forces has said.
Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba was yesterday addressing delegates from nearly 40 African countries at the beginning of a five-day forum which seeks to devise concrete measures to help bring to a halt sexual violence on the continent at the Rwanda National Police headquarters, in Kigali.
Gen. Nyamvumba, who early this year completed his tour of duty in Darfur, where he was Force Commander of the United Nations African Hybrid Mission in Darfur (Unamid), observed that sex violence existed in all societies, and called for concerted efforts to translate promises into action.
The general said violence against women and girls remained probably the most highly committed and grave offence in conflict and post-conflict situations, stating that rape is often used as a weapon of war.
This was the case in Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Nyamvumba told the meeting in Kigali.
“There is need for a harmonised training programme to ensure that we have a common approach to fight violence against women and girls, thus demonstrating deep understanding of the role of security organs in this regard, especially in conflict and post-conflict situations,” he said.
Gen. Nyamvumba said security organs had an important role to play in the fight against gender based violence and other emerging crimes such as human trafficking.
The Command Post Exercise, dubbed ‘Africa UNITE’, attracted heads of security organs from across Africa and is expected draw an action plan on how the continent will combat violence against women and girls.
The Resident Coordinator of One UN Rwanda, Lamin Momodou Manneh, said sustainable development is impossible without individual and collective security.
Lamin commended Rwanda’s “considerable progress” in fighting gender based violence, pointing out the impact of One-Stop-Centres spread across the country which encourage GBV victims to break the silence and provide them basic health care.
“Although we are trying to make progress, the journey of ending violence against women and girls is by no means an easy one but no one should relent in their efforts.
“You should forge strategic partnerships and work together in ending violence against women and girls,” he said.
One of the participants, Tanzania’s Assistant Superintendent of Police, Berthaneena Mlay, noted that the Command Post Exercise will leave her better informed with regard to the fight against gender violence.
She said that one of the main obstacles in the campaign against GBV is the fact that, in Africa, women generally fear to speak of their ordeals, partly for fear of stigma or landing their husbands, who are often the breadwinners, in jail.
She said victims should be courageous and speak out against this vice.
In Rwanda, in 2012 alone, some 30,500 women and girls were raped, defiled, beaten or killed, according to Commissioner of Police John Bosco Kabera.