Protection available to women who are victims of violence (March 2001) [RWA36561.E]

Although an October 1999 UNIFEM report stated that the Rwandan government had "passed the Family Code, which addresses issues of violence against women and girls" (11 Oct. 1999), a 30 April 2000 Win News claimed that, "there has been a continuous rise in the number of sexual abuse cases in Rwanda in last five years."

However, quoting Radio Rwanda, a 17 April 2000 BBC report stated that "ten people had each been sentenced to twenty-years in prison while another four were jailed for ten-years" in connection with sexual assaults. BBC noted that the "sentences are the first serious attempts by the Rwandan government to tackle the escalating problem of sexual assaults" (Ibid.).

Referring to violence against women in Rwanda, 2000 Country Reports states the following:

Violence against women is common. Wife beating and domestic violence occur frequently. Cases normally are handled within the context of the extended family and rarely come before the courts.
Numerous suspects have been tried and convicted for crimes of violence against women and girls. In April Aman Bazambanza was found guilty in a 15 suspect group trial of raping 2 young girls in Kigali rural prefecture; the court sentenced 10 of the suspects to 20 years in prison and 4 others to 10 years. The lengthy sentences for rape were the first such sentences in the justice system. Several other rape trials were held throughout the country in which perpetrators received the maximum sentences under the law. Civil society groups and human rights NGO's provided training on women's rights under the matrimonial regimes and inheritance law, which came into effect at the end of 1999 (2001, Sec. 5).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


BBC. 17 April 2000. "Rwanda Begins Battle Against Rape." [Accessed 28 Mar. 2001]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000. 2001. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. [Accessed 28 Mar. 2001]

Women's International Network (WIN News). 30 April 2000. "Women's Day: Women's Status and Activities Around the World." (NEXIS)

United Nations Development Funds for Women (UNIFEM). 11 October 1999. United Nations Regional Campaigns To Eliminate Violence Against Women: an Update [Accessed 28 Mar. 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential 2000 to present.


Resource Centre country file. Rwanda.

Web sites including:

Amnesty International.

Human Rights Watch (HRW).



Office fédéral des réfugiés (ODR), Suitzerland.


UN Commission for Human Rights.


Engine Search including:




Unsuccessful attempts to contact Women's organizations in Rwanda have been made.