#Metoo: Call for action as violence fight heat up on social media

On 6 January 2018 at 09:15

#Metoo: Having gone viral worldwide, the hashtag has also reached Rwanda. Testimonies have been written multiple times on social networks since the beginning of this week by women and men committed to fight rape and sexual violence. From hour to hour, the phenomenon is growing extensively.

The #Metoo initiative was started by an individual whose twitter account goes by @my250tweets. He published the names and photos of four men –including some popular personalities –who allegedly raped women recently.

The act has attracted controversial sentiments on social media. The police have asked rape victims to report to them rather than merely taking accusations to social networks.

"We encourage victims to report to the police or call 3512 and use the services of the Isange One Stop Center. We ask all those who have grievances about a rape case that has not been treated, to contact us at 0788311778," tweeted Rwanda National Police.

Present throughout the country, the Isange One Stop Center is a care and support facility that provides medical and social support services to rape victims.

Speaking to IGIHE, Chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda, Marie Immaculée Ingabire, encouraged the act and asked other victims to dare and tell their stories.

"The victims should dare, because, to remain silent becomes gradually oppressive until silence stifles them. Police and other organs can help them; so they should dare to speak,” she said.

Ingabire added the reasons that silence victims include the stigma they can face in their communities, or the fact that their story will not be believed.

“From my point of view, victims should talk to the best-positioned institutions to help them, to avoid defamation or similar acts,” she added.

Police spokesman ACP Theos Badege said there are "better ways" to seek justice than turning to social networks to make strong accusations against people.

"Rwanda is not a country where one would commit a crime of such intensity and come out free," Badege said yesterday.

According to Badege, one of the alleged victims reported the rape case to the police in 2014 and investigations were conducted accordingly.

The suspect, identified as Kagabo, was later brought to trial, but later discharged for lack of evidence pinning him on the crime.