NOVEMBER 2, 2009: Sexual Violence On the Rise But Too Few Arrests

Sexual Violence On the Rise But Too Few Arrests

SOURCE: East African

By Charles Kazooba

Nairobi — Rape and defilement have been documented as the most common violations against women in the East Africa and Great Lakes Region, a scenario that women activists fear could retard development in the region.

 A review of the types of sexual and gender-based violence cases that are presented in the courts, shows that rape and defilement are the highest prosecuted offences in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the latest study by the Action for Co-operation and Research in Development (ACORD).

The study was presented by ACORD's Awino Oketch at the recent Pan African Conference on Women's Security in Kampala.

The findings show for instance that in 2007 in Uganda, out of the 22 cases reviewed, 91 per cent were classified as defilement and nine per cent as rape.

In Burundi, out of the 62 cases reported in 2007 in Bujumbura Marie, 58 of them were rape.

The study says that the incidence of sexual violence has continued to rise at an alarming rate, while arrests of perpetrators and convictions are negligible.

Women particularly suffer from sexual and gender based violence, especially in situations of conflict and disaster.

ACORD reports that in the study sites of DR Congo -- Kinshasa and Tshangu -- rape was reported to be the most frequent offence reported for prosecution.

UN statistics show that in the DR Congo's troubled North Kivu province, some 350 rape cases are reported every month.

In Tanzania, all the 20 cases reviewed were rape cases, while in Kenya, out of the 54 cases reviewed, 28 were classed as defilement and eight as rape.

In addition, the court analysis presented in the audit demonstrates that in very rare circumstances will courts impose the maximum sentence on perpetrators.

All the five countries featured in the audit are signatories of various international and regional human rights instruments that promote the respect and protection of women's human rights.

The profile of the perpetrators varies though it is largely male.

In Tshangu, DR Congo, security personnel, adult men and relatives were found to constitute the largest number of perpetrators, while in Kinshasa, the perpetrators are largely wealthy adult men seeking out young casual partners aged between 12 and 17 years.

In Uganda, defilement of female pupils by teachers and their fellow male students has intensified, particularly in northern Uganda...

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