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Rwanda: National Dialogue on Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination in Media sector kicks off

By Anne Muhiza

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death.

The National Dialogue on Sexual Harassment and Women's rights organized by Women Media Owners for change/WMOC Through Partnership with Netherlands Embassy in Kigali. Addressed different major issues related (GBV) Sexual harassment particularly in Media sector. This National Dialogue attended by different guest from diverse private and public Institutions such as RGB, Jean Bosco Rushingabigwi (head of media department for media sector coordination monitoring), Chantal Mudahogora (psychotherapist), Emmanuel Mugisha (executive secretary RMC), Berna Namata (at the East AFRICAN), Alex Buyinza (international programme coordinator at FOJO media institute). However, through important presentation and speeches by some of high levels invitees, included government officials, Embassies representatives, Media owners, editors, etc. Interesting panel discussions and resilient recommendations toward sustainable and effective solutions.

“Up to date, they are some Progress for Women Empowerment and Gender promotion. Particularly where girls increased in Education Sector, ICT, Entrepreneurship, etc. Therefore, by 2020, Rwanda came at 9 levels and 7 levels Worldwide on Gender Promotion between Men's and Women. However, there's still Gender gaps, in our Country, which still we have to work together to fight GBV& another kind of Harassment. To that Media is Among our important partners. Said Hon. Minister Prof. Jeannette BAYISENGE, The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF).

“I really appreciate WMOC commitment and Progress, and urged WMOC to keep up, mostly by engaging others young Women in Media Sector, as well as to Urges them in other Entrepreneurship Matters. Otherwise, you are urges to continue Gender Desk and work professional while applying appropriately Media Laws, also advocacy to promote Gender and to fight any kind of violence and harassment in our Country.” She added

“Female contribute to Socioeconomic transformation in each country at work place, thus there still a huge gap in Gender. Women experience are still limit. Sexual Harassment increases, at work environment, indeed it’s Media role to contribute by fighting Gender based violence and any kind of harassment. Rwanda came at 31 % among advanced Coin Economic development, and Women Empowered at many levels. WMOC take this important Dialogue on Sexual Harassment and Women's rights, which is a great step to embrace insightful sustainable solutions”. Said H.E Ambassador, Netherlands Embassy in Kigali.

According to SWEDEN EMBASSY in Rwanda: Gender Equality and its policy, as one of the main focus. “We work and support some sustainable programs toward capacity building of Gender Promotion. where we work with Governments of Rwanda, etc. however, there is still a gap for women in Media who can't be allowed to cover Political and Economic Development articles. We are still looking to work with Media Association like WMOC, Gender Desk strategies and Promotion, as part of effective solutions to GBV.”

The role of donor’s in fighting GBV, especially during COVID-19 challenges, and for Economic recovery we support Media. Also Gender mainstreaming through Capacity building. Furthermore, we plan to work with RGB toward Media sustainability by fighting Gender harassment in Media sector. Said, Mr. EMMANUEL MACUMU, UNDP

“our Role, particularly with partnership with RNP, we are discussing on sexual Harassment and abuse. Sincerely, search of these cases, we always to make sure toward Justice for victims. Despite some challenges, we punish all who've involved at any consequences for victims, thus some hide facts, which mostly is a barrier to us and for victims to access effective Justice, due to that some of the victims don’t report search cases on time, also others choose silence. Therefore, we urge citizens, to share updates of the mentioned cases on time. Thus we haven’t even received search of these 15 cases with one Year! therefore keep up WMOC, Gender Desk that's a very important. Prevention for GBV, Sexual Harassment and Justice for the victims is very important” Said, Deputy Secretary, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).

In Rwanda there's Laws, also there's victims of GVB victims. Therefore, Countrywide we have search cases not only in Media Sector. Prevention as a strong key to fight GVB, mostly in Collaboration with RIB. Really, I really appreciate WMOC, no only to urges Media role to fight GVB, you better urge all Country Citizens to play the role to prevent and fight together GBV. Where you can report GBV cases on time at RIB, RNP, and also at WMOC. However, we have to Educate Laws to our Citizens furthermore while securing their rights and in in the manner of Prevention too. Also advocacy and to increase talk shows, articles, to fight GBV and reduce perpetrators. Said CP JB KABERA, Spokesperson, the Rwanda National Police (RNP).

“Firstly thank you so much, and I am really excited. Also as Rwandan we have to be proud on how we have highly great commitment to address issues, for instance on GBV, etc. Gender policy is still lack in many Media house.). Most of young female Journalists are yet to embrace Media Professionals matters.” Berna Namata, The East AFRICAN.

“MuchAppreciated this important event, basically to report GBV issues timely with appropriate evidence matters! Also safety of Journalists. Media House's must embrace Media Professionalism to fight GBV and Sexual Harassment.” Emmanuel Mugisha, Executive Secretary, Rwanda Media Commission (RMC).

According to RGB, Mr. Rudhingabigwi urges Media house to have Gender focal persal and Expert to strategic effective Plans Toward Sexual harassment.

The discussions tackled different productive opinions, where the participants shared that this crime, is not a one-day act but it’s a process and also sometimes females contribute to being harassed, as the provided example said that a lady can be having a job, but because of not functioning her tasks well at work, this leads her to be harassed by her employer for her not to quit job, so she helps that harassment in order to keep the job. They agreed that trainings should be provided to the journalists, the perpetrators and the victims of this crime. It has been pointed out that much effort should be put into preventing sexual harassment than putting effort in punishing the perpetrators of this crime.

Phycologist expert, Mme Chantal said “this harassment is mostly done to female gender by male, where you find a man looking too much to a lady and starts controlling her, this leads to harassment, for instance in Canada, when a person starts to observe you too much, without any concern…, you can call the police to punishment or investigation. So we don’t want men to be scared of women, but we urge them not to cross boundaries, they have to limit themselves in order to prevent any kind of that sexual harassment.”

Sexual harassment is Behavior which is characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation. It’s inextricably linked with power and often takes place in societies which treat women as sex objects and second class citizens. A common example, is when women are asked for sexual favors in returns for being given a job, promotion or a raise. COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the current GBV gaps, including but not limited to access to GBV prevention and response services. During the pandemic, lockdown, curfews and other restrictions on movement are deemed necessary preventative health measures that can save millions of lives.

WMOC members, Partners with Government officials.m
H.E Ambassador, Netherlands Embassy in Kigali.
Mme Regine Akarikumutima,from WMOC. Moderator at National Dialogue on Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination in Media sector.
WMOC Chair Person , Mme Peace Hillary Tumwesigire ( Middle L) with some members.

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