Father arrested of child abuse: A family’s story

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On January 15, this year, two sibling girls aged one and four, were beaten by their father to the extent that they could neither walk nor sit.

The assault, apparently in form of “punishment” stemmed from the delay of the four-year-old, whose mother had sent to buy a matchbox in the nearby shop.

The father identified as Prosper Uwimana, of Bweramvura Cell, Kinihira Sector of Ruhango District, was not at home at the time the young girl was sent to buy the matchbox. On his return, however, he asked the wife on the whereabouts of their first born daughter; the latter said she sent her to the shop…only that she had delayed.

Uwimana didn’t take this lightly, unfortunately; the young girl on her return was severely beaten. Things turned worse when the wife intervened to save her daughter from the father threatening to take the matter to police if he went ahead with the corporal punishment. Uwimana went rogue, grabbed their one year daughter and severely caned her as well, apparently to show the wife that he’s the “authority” at home.

The innocent girls are currently admitted at Gitwe hospital with repeated blows on their head and body.

According to Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Christine Uwamahoro, the acting director of Anti-GBV and Child Abuse directorate at Rwanda National Police (RNP), this is among many abuses children face in their homes and communities, some of which are not reported by family members.

This is true basing on the fact that this is not the first time Uwimana has brutally beaten his daughters, as reported by her wife and mother of the girls, to police.

A medical report indeed shows that the latest beatings added injury to the wounds the girls had sustained, apparently at the hands of their biological father.

“I had decided to keep silent on these abuses thinking that we would work it out to prevent them, but I  had lied to myself, and I blame myself what’s happened to my daughters,” said the disgruntled mother.

According CIP Uwamahoro, most abuses directed or faced by the children manifest in form of defilement, corporal punishment, abandonment and infanticide, among others.

“Children are minor, they are vulnerable and prone to other forms of abuse be it physical, psychological or emotional, but unfortunately those supposed to protect them are the same people abusing them or protecting the abusers,” said CIP Uwamahoro.

According to Supt. Shafiga Murebwayire, the director of Isange One Stop Centre, which provides free medical, psycho-socio and legal services to victims of GBV and child abuse, child abuse related cases account for at least 65 percent of the over 10, 000 cases handled by Isange centre since its establishment in the year 2009.

“We urge everyone, who witness any form of child abuse, to report it. Actually, the general public hold the strongest hand in identifying and fighting these abuses by ensuring that each and every culprit faces justice, and victims receives all the necessary medical care,” says Supt. Murebwayire.

RNP in partnership with other partners including the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, in December last year, launched a standard operation manual for Isange centres, which outlines uniformity of specific services and procedures offered at all centres countrywide.

Currently, Isange has been established in 28 district hospitals across the country under the scale up programme to have them in all 44 hospitals and ultimately in all 512 health centers countrywide.

“Akagoroba k’ababyeyi (evening of parents), partnership with the media through talk-shows, mobile Isange centre and Police station, community awareness and formation of anti-crime clubs in schools and communities, have, however, played a big part in fighting the vice and identifying where the problem exists,” says Uwamahoro.

The regional centre of excellence against GBV and child abuse located at the RNP headquarters in Kacyiru is also seen as one of the strategies in the fight against child abuse.

It has so far hosted a training of staff of hospitals that host Isange centres, police officers operating in those centres, on the uniformity in approaching and handling GBV and child abuse cases.



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