BUJUMBURA October 16th (ABP) – The socio-cultural adviser of the governor of Muyinga Province (north-east Burundi), Ms. Denise Ndaruhekere, is pleased with the results of the Emergency Project on Sexual and Gender Based Violence and Women’s Health in the Great Lakes Region (PUVSBGSF-GLR), which operates in Muyinga, Makamba and Cibitoke provinces.

In an interview given to the check by ABP on Tuesday, October 14, 2019, she nevertheless advocated for the extension of that project which, since 2017, has implemented integrated centers for the holistic management of victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in all three provinces, with the support of the World Bank.

“Violence haunts the people of Muyinga. With the implementation of this project in our province, for almost three years, we have benefited a lot. People are starting to change their mindsets even though the problems are not lacking. When gender-based violence occurs in the community, it is denounced, cases are known, and perpetrators are punished. Prior to the establishment of the Integrated Centers for the Care of SGBV Victims, vulnerable survivors had problems reaching health facilities and paying for medical expertise. These problems have found solutions. Survivors now benefit from travel expenses and get free medical expertise,” says Ndaruhekere. “The problems of settling cases out of court to hide such files are decreasing. When a SGBV is committed in a locality, the community leaders supervised by the project immediately inform the administrative officials and other stakeholders in the fight against this scourge so that the survivor be admitted to health care facilities,” she adds.

The good results have been achieved thanks to the sensitization of the people at different levels. Administrative officials, police, justice, community members, community leaders set up by Family and Community Development Centers (CFDCs) and women’s forum members work together to fight against the scourge, Ms. Ndaruhekere continues to say. However, there is a risk of annihilating the successes observed if the project stops by here, she says. According to her, the wish is that the project can continue for at least two or three years so that people and the administrative officials can take ownership of it and work for the eradication of the scourge. “Ownership helps the sustainability of achievements,” she says.

For fear of reprisals, discrimination and mockery, the victims did not denounce perpetrators before the violence suffered. They were not even going to treatment centers, fearing that the caregivers would disclose the case. Now things have changed. The survivor is treated and receives holistic care. According to Ms. Ndaruhekere, the majority of victims are women and girls, although there are men who suffer from SGBV. At the household level, women are abused by their husbands, while girls experience mostly sexual violence. Cases of economic violence against women are very numerous. Some men make economic decisions without consulting their wives. Still others sell the property or livestock owned by their wives or property acquired together without consulting them. There are still some who repudiate their wives, empty-handed, while they participated in the acquisition of the family patrimony.

According to Ms. Ndaruhekere, the governor of the province carries out awareness campaigns for men and women in the fight against SGBV and provides advice. Different stakeholders teach couples about how to build model households, and positive results are recorded. Some men change and ask for forgiveness. But sometimes, we do not have the expected results, some very difficult men persevere in their mistakes, according to Ms. Ndaruhekere.

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