Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape and spousal rape, and the government handled rape cases as a judicial priority. Penalties for rape ranged from five-years to life imprisonment with fines of 500,000 to one million Rwandan francs ($696 to $1,392). Penalties for spousal rape ranged from two months to life imprisonment with fines of 100,000 to 300,000 Rwandan francs ($139 to $417).
The law provides for imprisonment of three to six months for threatening, harassing, or beating one’s spouse. Domestic violence against women was common. Many incidents remained within the extended family and were not reported or prosecuted. Authorities encouraged the reporting of domestic violence cases, and the RNP stated that reporting increased during the year. In July Ipas and the Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights Development reported 48 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. According to the Ministry of Health’s 2012 Annual Report, 12,725 cases of GBV were reported at district hospitals; 10,410 victims were female and 2,315 were male.
Police headquarters in Kigali had a hotline for domestic violence. Several other government ministries also had free GBV hotlines. Each of the 78 police stations nationwide had its own gender desk, an average of three officers trained in handling domestic violence and GBV cases, and a public outreach program. The RNP Directorate against GBV handled all cases of such violence and child protection. Fifteen one-stop centers were established throughout the country, providing medical, psychological, legal, and police assistance at no cost to victims of domestic violence. The government continued to expand the network of one-stop centers in hospitals, districts, and refugee camps.
The government continued a whole-of-government, multistakeholder campaign against GBV, child abuse, and other types of domestic violence. GBV was a required training module for police and military at all levels, and was included as a module for all troops and police deploying to peacekeeping missions abroad.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, FGM/C was not widely practiced in the country. The government ratified the Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003), which prohibits “all forms of female genital mutilation, scarification, medicalization and para-medicalization of female genital mutilation and all other practices in order to eradicate them.”
The law considers all sex-based practices carried out on children, regardless of form or method and including FGM/C, to be defilement, which is punishable by life in prison and a fine of 100,000 to one million Rwandan francs ($139 to $1,392). There were no reports of FGM/C perpetrated against children during the year.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment by employers or any other person and provides for penalties for conviction of two months’ to two years’ imprisonment and fines from 100,000 to 500,000 Rwandan francs ($139 to $696). Nevertheless, advocacy organizations reported sexual harassment remained common. The City of Kigali continued a program to combat sexual harassment of women and girls in public spaces, and government officials frequently spoke against sexual harassment and GBV. The effectiveness of government enforcement efforts was unknown.
Reproductive Rights: The government encouraged couples to have no more children than they could afford but also respected the right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of children, manage their reproductive health, and have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. The government made available reproductive health services and contraceptives to all citizens regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity. The government promoted the involvement of men in family planning decisions and launched a campaign to reduce social stigma against vasectomies. More than 90 percent of the population participated in private or government-sponsored health insurance plans, and the poorest of the population received free coverage. There was a small copayment for obstetric services, but this fee was waived for women who completed the recommended four prenatal care visits. Insurance plans did not provide adequate coverage for more expensive medical care.
According to the United Nations, the estimated maternal mortality ratio in during the year was 290 deaths per 100,000 live births, with a lifetime risk of maternal death of one in 66. Major factors influencing maternal mortality included lack of skilled health-care attendants at birth, lack of access to health facilities due to cost or distance, and unhygienic conditions. According to the UN Population Fund, skilled birth attendants attended 91 percent of births in 2014.
According to the 2015 Demographic and Health Survey, the use of modern contraceptives among unmarried sexually active women was 35 percent, and 48 percent among married women. The Guttmacher Institute reported in 2013 that the unmet need for contraception declined from 36 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2010.
Ipas and the Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights Development reported that an average of 25 percent of women in prison were serving sentences for illegal abortion, and were often arrested after seeking emergency health care for the management of complications arising from abortion. The RCS disputed the findings, stating only 2 percent of women in prison were serving sentences for illegal abortion.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and are entitled to the same rights as men, including under family, labor, nationality, and inheritance laws. The law allows women to inherit property from their fathers and husbands, and couples may make their own legal property arrangements. Women experienced some difficulties pursuing property claims due to lack of knowledge, procedural bias against women in inheritance matters, multiple spousal claims due to polygyny, and the threat of GBV. The law requires equal pay for equal work and prohibits discrimination in hiring decisions (see section 7.d.). Women, however, were more likely to be paid in kind than in cash, and only one-third of married women with earnings made as much as their husband.
After the 1994 genocide, which left many women as heads of households, women assumed a larger role in the formal sector, and many operated their own businesses. According to the National Institute of Statistics’ 2014 Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey, 26 percent of households were headed by women, and 24 percent of these households were in the lowest socioeconomic category. Women’s work was more concentrated in the agricultural sector, with 79 percent of women engaged in agricultural work, compared with 59 percent of men. Women worked in sales and commerce in similar proportion to men.
Women comprised 64 percent of the Chamber of Deputies and one-third of cabinet ministers, but were a minority in district and sector-level government positions. The July organic law on cell- and sector-level Mediation Committees decreed that at least 30 percent of Mediation Committee members must be women. According to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s 2011 Establishment Census, women managed approximately 26 percent of all formal enterprises. Men owned the major assets of most households, however, particularly those at the lower end of the economic spectrum, making bank credit inaccessible to many women and rendering it difficult to start or expand a business.
The government-funded National Women’s Council served as a forum for women’s issues and consulted with the government on land, inheritance, and child protection laws. The Ministry of Gender led government programs to address women’s issues and coordinated programs with other ministries, police, and NGOs, including the national action plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. The government provided scholarships for girls in primary and secondary school and loans to rural women. A number of women’s groups actively promoted women and children’s concerns, particularly those of widows, orphaned girls, and households headed by children. The government-run Gender Monitoring Office tracked the mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout all sectors of society and collected gender-disaggregated data to inform policy processes.