March against sexual violence against women in public spaces in Kigali
The City of Kigali in conjunction with the Ministry of Infrastructure, plans to scale up street lighting.
According to city Mayor, Fidele Ndayisaba, several women and girls face sexual harassment in public places in the city due to limited lighting.
“We are looking into putting up infrastructure in the city that will favour women and protect them from such practices,” Ndayisaba said, during an awareness campaign against sexual harassment in public places.
The campaign conducted, last week, was organised in collaboration with One UN Rwanda. Participants stressed the need to improve public transport to avoid congestion and make the city safe for women and girls, especially in high-risk areas.
According to a recent baseline survey on sexual harassment and gender based violence in the country conducted by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), 11 percent of women surveyed were insulted in public places in the city.
The study says 13 percent of the victims were persistently followed on foot, by a car or motorcycle by their tormentors. At least 12 percent of respondents declared that their bags, wallets, jewellery and other treasured objects were violently stolen.
Speaking at the same function, the Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyumva, said the ministry’s plan was to streamline public transport to mitigate the malpractices against female passengers.
“We know what women and girls are going through in public places, so, the government plans to come up with measures to curb the issue (sexual violence),” Nsengiyumva said.
According to UNIFEM, for many women and girls around the world, just passing through a public space- a market, a crowded street – is cause for great anxiety.
It says the threat of sexual harassment can be terrifying and has lingering psychological impacts and consequences to women.
Unfortunately, it says, patterns of sexual abuse in urban public places are often seen as an unavoidable part of urban life, not therefore recognized as a problem either by local governments, enforcement agencies, or the public.