In light of the multifaceted challenges and limitations community members get in attaining justice, Action for Development conducted legal sessions which were held at Parish level in Nyarusinza, Nyakabande, Busanza and Kirundo Sub County in Kisoro District. The training aimed at creating awareness on laws concerning the negative socio- cultural practices and their consequences for women and girls.

Unlike previous activities where only project beneficiaries attended, the legal sessions were open to the entire community so as to enable them understand their rights and responsibilities and to hold their leaders accountable. These were held using the available platforms such as clan meetings and community meetings.

These legal sessions were facilitated by the Probation officer who was familiar with the community context and also well versed with the different laws; he was supported by the ACFODE Kisoro field officer and counselor.

Participants posing for a group photo
Participants posing for a group photo

A total number of 814 participants (383 Females & 431 Males) took part across the different parishes and gained knowledge on the existing laws that govern the identified negative socio-cultural practices. The category of people engaged included the Clan leaders, Religious leaders, sub county technocrats, Model Couples, CODERASH committee members, pupils and students as well as the community members at large.

Among the topics discussed were the negative socio cultural practices such as Alcoholism, Early Marriages and teenage Pregnancies, Domestic Violence, lack of Property Rights for women, Child/ Family Neglect.  These were always accompanied by the legal framework that govern them such as the constitution, Penal Code, Domestic Violence Act (2010), Enguri act, Children’s act, Education Act 2008, the Succession Act cap 162 and the Land act.

During the discussion participants asked, “In the event parents die and they left two boys and one girl, who should own their property among the three?” Community members responded that boys would take more shares because they will develop and maintain their family. The facilitator informed them by saying that the law says that all children are equal and they all have equal rights on the property of their parents therefore boys and girls should share them equally.

“What can parents do to suspects who defile girls and impregnate them and then disappear and come after some time when evidences expired?” Asked Mrs. Byigero Annet. The facilitator responded that the cases do not expire; they should report to police and keep the file number, when the suspect resurfaces the case resumes.

A participant sharing his concerns during the legal session
A participant sharing his concerns during the legal session

Another community member, Ms. Kaniziyo Munyakabere asked “these days’ women refuse their husbands to sale their property while looking for school fees, what can men do to such women?” The facilitator responded to him that men should learn how to be transparent and faithful to their wives because sometimes women agree with their husbands and later they do not serve the purpose which causes doubts in them.

As the facilitator concluded the session he urged all who were present to disseminate the message to others. He also quoted in the bible that “those who abide by Gods commandments will save their lives” meaning that if they listen and obey and put the message into actions, their lives will be saved from all bad practices hence leading to peaceful homes, concluded the probation officer.

The legal session was an opportunity for people who had issues and were not able to reach the probation officer. It’s important to note also that the probation officer was able to make an appointment with different clients who had major challenges and therefore needed his intervention.

With the information, knowledge and skills given to the community members, ACFODE is optimistic that by-laws are going to be put in place and implemented in these communities. The trainings were made possible with funding from BMZ in partnership with EIRENE

Compiled by Nakanwagi Faith Eva

Programmes Assistant

Gender & Economic Policy Department

fnakanwagi@acfode.org

ACFODE holds Legal sessions at Parish level in Kisoro District

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