KAYANZA / KARUSI / CANKUZO December 11th (ABP) – The people of Kayanza province (north) were called upon to work synergistically in the fight against violence to women and girls. They were appealed to denounce and bring to justice the perpetrators and help the victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), especially by referring them to the nearest assistance centers. They were also recommended to beef up peace and security, especially as the country has already entered the 2020 election period. All those appeals were launched in Gatara commune on Monday, December 9, by the coordinator of the Family and Community Development Center (CDFC) in Kayanza province, on the occasion of the closing ceremonies of the 16-day campaign of activism against violence to women and girls, a check by ABP revealed.

In her introductory speech, the communal administrator of Gatara, Mrs. Devote Ndayizeye, said that the violence committed against women and girls still persists in her commune, but that in collaboration with the police, the administration tries to curb the situation. The same goes for CDFC coordinator Florence Ndikumana, who said that violence against women and girls is a reality throughout the province, but that it has been reduced thanks to the law on the prevention and punishment of SGBV. Moreover, that law helped reduce the cases of concubine behavior that are talked about in that province.

In addition, the coordinator of the CDFC Kayanza testified that in collaboration with the police, the administration and justice, the perpetrators of the SGBV were apprehended, brought to justice and punished. As a result, Mrs. Ndikumana called on participants in the day’s ceremonies to continue to denounce all those involved in SGBV cases, with a view to eradicating them. Whether it is Mr. Melchior Nyabenda, a socio-cultural adviser of the governor of Kayanza or the provincial coordinator of the CDFC, both were against the attitude of some teachers who incite their students to have sexual intercourse with them, as revealed in Gahombo school commune. They took the opportunity to ask the education stakeholders to play their role in order to redress the education that is now tending to deteriorate.

As the number of school drop-outs was high, the Kayanza governor’s socio-cultural advisor recommended to the educational authority at both the provincial and communal levels to make every effort to raise awareness about the merits of the school. As the 2020 elections are drawing near, Mr. Nyabenda urged the people of Kayanza province in general and those of Gatara in particular to avoid all forms of descent, but rather to ensure peace and security, with a view to the smooth conduct of those upcoming elections.

During the same campaign, awareness and assessment sessions have been conducted by the Family and Community Development Center (CDFC) in all communes of Karusi province (center-east) since Tuesday, December 3, 2019. The governor of Karusi, Mrs. Calinie Mbarushimana, testified that this violence continues to be reported in her province. She pointed out that, no matter how small difference is, men are also victims of such violence. In fact, in the last three months, the CDFC reports 112 victims, including 20 men. Those figures are estimated to be few compared to reality, according to the coordinator of the CDFC, who deplores unspoken reports.

At the level of the health services, the victims request that the expenses of medical expertise should be removed and that the judicial police should repress the cases of SGBV which are settled out of court in the villages by the local administration. At the court level, the major problem of the persistence of such violence is related to the Burundian culture which is taboo on cases of domestic violence and sexual violence, on the one hand, and the lack of eyewitnesses, on the other hand. However, the education services denounce the judicial services which treat cases of SGBV with negligence.

Governor Mbarushimana calls on the entire community of her province to stand up as one man in the fight against physical, social and economic violence against both the female and the male gender.

During a presentation on the status of women’s rights in Cankuzo province (east), the coordinator of the CDFC, Mrs. Noelline Niyonzima, pointed out that women’s participation levels have not yet reached the satisfactory point, adding that there is still violence against women, especially violence related to family heritage. In their interventions, most of the participants in the presentation were unanimous on the causes of that violence, especially the violence based on Burundian customs, the self-underestimation of some of the women as well as the lack of effective awareness of the men on the role of women in community life. That is why they urged women to emancipate themselves through self-development associations, in order to set up their own projects. The governor of the Cankuzo province, Mr. Désiré Njiji, who took part in those activities, commended the step taken by women in promoting development. He called on them to continue on the same way of development and to keep peace.

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