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Strengthening Community Activism Against Sexual & Gender Based Violence

While handing over the mantle of activism against sexual and gender based violence to the leadership of Kisoro District, ACFODE conducted community dialogues with the project partners in Nyakabande, Busanza, Nyarusiza and Kirundo Sub-Counties. The meetings which were attended by 173 participants (106 male & 67 female) aimed at assessing impact of the 3 year project, and building a network among the project partners in establishing mechanisms for continuity and sustainability of initiatives that prevent, handle and refer cases of SGBV against women and girls. The discussions reported a reduction in cases of SGBV, in particular; early pregnancy, early marriage and girl child dropout of school. In addition, the team of community leaders confronted the Police on shelving and neglecting SBGV cases, as well as taking bribes to silence some of the cases. They pledged to collectively and closely follow-up with Police on their mandate in handling SGBV cases and ensuring that the victims access justice.

The meetings also entailed an official handover of the community agents of change, commonly known as ACFODE-CODERASH (Combating all forms of Defilement, Rape and Sexual Harassment) to the Sub-County leadership. The CODERASH who penetrated communities as ACFODE allies took lead in handling and referring SGBV cases.

ACFODE went ahead to meet with passionate women and men representatives of Kisoro District Local Government. As the dialogues with the officials intensified, emerging SGBV cases unfolded, these included the lack of a remand home for juvenile delinquents whose number as perpetrators of sexual violence has recently risen. The issue of men and boys experiencing SGBV but suffering silently also came out strongly and sought redress. In addition, members were enlightened on Police facilitation for medical-legal examination of SGBV victims, hence cautioning the medical personnel not to impose any cost on examination of SGBV victims.

The assessment conclusively challenged ACFODE to undertake an advocacy campaign as follow-up to Government’s commitment to setting up one stop GBV shelters in all districts and for establishment of district situated remand homes for juvenile delinquents, in a bid to address the rise in SGBV offenses, as well as tame the youth against crime.