Yashyizweho kuri 27 November, 2017 | 08:17

Kaniga: Women to work, men to give guidelines

Polygamy is a known practice in communities at the border to Rwanda. To discuss consequences of those practices, the journalist network PAX PRESS conducted a community debate on 7th of November 2017 in the Kaniga sector, located in Gicumbi district in the north province. On the lawn next to the community hall, journalists facilitated a lively discussion between inhabitants and local authorities focusing on polygamy and the impact of the new family law.

Andrew Gatera lives in the small village for 38 years now and considers himself as the only decision maker in his family. “We learned from our parents and grandparents that we should make use of the power that we gain from our identity as men. By tradition, we have the last word when it comes to a decision or a discussion within our family”, he says.

During the debate, citizens reported that it is the matter of understanding based on their local culture. In the following, other men and women express how they have been raised to respect the men and husbands opinions in any situation. Ngoboka says: “Women are here to take care of us. When I marry a woman, it is her duty to help in the development of our own family. Thus, once she reaches my home she has to work and I as a man, I am in charge to give her guidelines.” However, the new family law brings a total different concept of family structure to the life of the Rwandans; as it says that men and women are now equally head of the household.
Kaniga sector face the problem of polygamy for many some husbands leave their houses in Rwanda to cross the border to Uganda, where they take a second wife. As a consequence, many children are raised only by their mothers, who constantly struggle to provide food, clothes and school fees.

The general secretay of Conseils Nationale des Femmes (“CNF”) in Gicumbi district, Eugenie Mukamurenzi, explained to the audiences: “For women, polygamy should be taken as gender based violence because in the Constitution of Rwanda, a man can legally only be married to one woman. Polygamy, thus is affecting many other rights, inheritance for example” She said that the CNF puts much emphasis on sensitizing women about their duties and rights. “Family members are gathered into ‘Umugoroba w’ababyeyi’ where we share ideas about the government policies to Rwandans, to live in harmony with common understanding respecting ones others.”
People living on the borders often share almost all aspects of living like works, culture and languages. It is just the same way like population of Kaniga sector speak both “Rukiga” and “Ruganda” mainly in their daily communication with Ugandans, to exchange some properties to survive.

PAX PRESS conducts community debates throughout the year in small communities all over Rwanda to create spaces for dialogue. The lively debates on pressing issues are aired, broadcasted and published in various radio stations, TV shows, websites and newspapers. The organization aims to enhance the participation of Rwandan citizens on governmental processes and to moderate such constructive dialogue that leads to a deeper understanding on all aspects of an issue. Citizen are empowered to claim their rights and local authorities are aware of their duties and responsibilities and can be held accountable for it by the citizens.

Nadine Evelyne Umubyeyi

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