13 percent of sexual violence victims are under 5 years old

A survey that was conducted in seven Isange One Stop Centres has revealed that 8.5 percent of 1,951 teen girls who are victims of sexual violence were infected with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STI) while 13 percent of them were children under 5 years old

The survey was conducted on girls under 18 years old, who were received by Isange One Stop Centres between 1st January 2018, and December 2018.

The centers include Isange OSC of Kacyiru Hospital in Kigali City, Remera-Rukoma in Kamonyi district, Kabgayi in Muhanga district,  Gitwe in Ruhango,  Kabutare in Huye district, Gisenyi and  Shyira in Nyabihu district.

The report was from Oxfam Rwanda, Kacyiru Hospital and research from University of Rwanda, School of Public Health.

The report indicated that 6 percent were infected with STIs, 1.6 percent with HIV and 0.5 percent with Hepatitis C.

67.9 percent of the victims are aged between 10 and 17 years, 19.4 percent are between 5 and 9 years, while 13 percent are under five years old.

Among the victims, 50.8 percent were still in primary level.

The consequences of sexual violence to under-18 females include unwanted pregnancies, which represents 24.4 percent.

Further, the report reveals that 69 percent of victims dropped out of school, 6.1 percent have been involved in prostitution, 5.8 and 4.2 percent are suffering from depression and anxiety respectively.

Meanwhile, 2.4 percent had experienced suicidal thoughts and intentions and perpetrators include neighbors, friends, family members, and strangers.

33.8 percent of the rape cases took place in the victim’s home, 28 percent in perpetrator’s residence while 14.3 percent were raped in the bush.

Risk factors associated with perpetrators committing the crime include alcohol consumption (42 percent), drug consumption (12 percent), and incidences of mental health (7.5 (percent) while others include low socioeconomic status and poor parental supervision.

Way forward

The survey recommends establishing mechanisms for tracing girls who dropped out of school due to unwanted pregnancies, through all levels of community administrative channel.

Alice Anukur, Oxfam Country Director said it was vital to develop linkages between schools and health services, as part of efforts to facilitate access to sexual and reproductive health services.

This will help curb teenage pregnancies while at the same time support pregnant and parenting adolescents, according to her.

The research also called for delivering curriculum-based comprehensive sexual education in schools prior to, and after puberty to prevent early and unwanted pregnancies.

Increasing capacity of health professions in Isange One Stop Centres and district hospitals on GBV and behavior change communication was also part of the recommendations.

‘Increase the number of judicial access points at the district level and ensure they receive training on dealing with GBV victims, read parts of the report.

Commenting on the survey findings, Solina Nyirahabimana, the Minister in Charge of Gender and Family Promotion said faith-based organisations were also key in fighting sexual violence.

She added that Early Childhood Development Centres are also a key approach in supervising children and protect them against defilement.

“It is puzzling to find out that 13 percent of sexual violence victims were children under 5 years old. Faith-based organizations and partners are needed in this fight we have started,” she said, adding that this is because they can reach out to a big number of the population.

“They have to use their power to inculcate good values in people and this is one way of preventing sexual violence,” she noted.

Mgr Antoine Kambanda, the head of Catholic Archdiocese of Kigali and the Rwanda Inter-Faith Council said they had committed to partner with the other stakeholders to change behavior that leads sexual violence.

Meanwhile, a new project has been launched to help fight GBV and support the victims in six districts.

“The project also seeks to raise awareness about the role of Isange One-stop Centers. We are also assisting sexually violated girls and others to be able to manage and cope with the effects. Fighting the vice is to build a bright future of young people in this country,” he said.

Original source: The New Times (www.newtimes.co.rw).

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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