The Problem

In Rwanda, Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has been a widespread problem for women and girls both during the genocide and in the current peacetime. While incidences of SGBV lessened after the war and genocide, patterns of violence continue even today. Gender-based violence is probably the most socially tolerated of human rights violations and in Rwanda, spousal battery, sexual abuse, and rape are prevalent to the proportions of 57.2% according to a masculinity study that was conducted by the Rwanda men’s Resource Centre. Women and child abuse is perpetrated mostly by men, and this is due to negative masculine behaviors that partly stem from negative cultural beliefs/norms and practices, and the recent history of the country in which rape was used as a genocide weapon to dehumanize and inflict suffering to women survivors. This situation continues even now in the peace time, and women and children continue to face the consequences despite the government will to provide conducive environment for effective protection of women and children’s rights and welfare. From 2006 to 2009, the police received and handled approximately 9,827 cases of women abuse and child defilement countrywide, and this represented on average more than 82% of survivors of gender-based violence were girls under 18, whereas women represented more or less than 17%.
Despite the development of appropriate policies and the enactment of different laws that promote gender equality, prevent and punish acts of SGBV, gender-based violence continues to hold back gender promotion and other development efforts. This is main attributed to cultural norms, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of gender concept; limited awareness on human rights, culture of silence due to stigma; poor communication on sexuality within the family, limited community dialogue on sexual and gender- based violence, gender roles and norms that vest men with greater access to and control over power and resources.
It is also worth noting that there are insufficient GBV prevention initiatives (including education, mass mobilization, mentoring programs, etc) throughout the country that can effectively help to eliminate GBV in communities. There are insufficient and inadequate services for survivors of GBV in terms of psycho-therapy and social support, legal aid, medical services and other appropriate services to survivors of GBV.
Despite the fallbacks mentioned, the Rwanda National Police was able to realize in 2001 that a special desk was necessary to comprehensively investigate cases of SGBV and to conduct mass campaigns as a way of prevention mechanism. In 2009 however, the Police recognized the need to have a holistic package of services in one place to reduce on the costs and time spent by victims before accessing services and for timely justice thus established Isange One Stop Center at Kacyiru Police Hospital. The word Isange is a Kinyarwanda word literally meaning “feel at home”.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The mission of the centre is to provide comprehensive, timely, affordable, quality services to child, domestic and gender based violence survivors. The center is integrated in Kacyiru Police Hospital which is the only one in Rwanda with forensic depart¬ment and forensic specialists therefore; it provides referral and specialized services like medico-legal, gynecology and obstetrics, mental health, legal and investigation, psychosocial, safe room and social integration services.
Services rendered at the Isange Center One Stop Center:

At the reception the survivor meets a social worker who has been trained in basic counseling skills and who will give adequate information to allow the survivor to make an informed choice.
The reception (Social Worker):
The social worker will give information and orientation to the survivor about his/her rights and the services available at the center. Based on the choice of the survivor the social worker will guide the survivor to the service provider; police, medical or psychosocial.

The social worker will open a file on the survivor with all necessary details to identify the patient. In case the survivor is in a state of shock or otherwise is not able to talk or express him/herself the social worker will use good judgment and guide the survivor to psychosocial services. All information will be strictly confidential and may only be shared with people outside the center with signed consent of the survivor.

The medical service provider:
Upon the expressed wishes of the patient the medical service provider will give complete and comprehensive medical care in order to treat injuries and emergencies, prevent diseases and collect/ protect evidence of a crime.

The medical service provider should, with the consent of the patient, collect and protect evidence of a crime according to the standards of the judiciary.

Depending on the age of the survivor the medical service provider will report the case to the police. If the survivor is under 18 years of age the medical service provider must report the situation to the police if it is suspected that a crime has been committed. If the survivor is above 18 years it is the survivor’s choice to report the crime.

The medical service provider will open a medical file for the survivor, or complete the file that has been started by the psychosocial service provider. If the medical service provider is the first service the medical service provider should take the file and accompany the patient to the psychosocial service provider.

The psychosocial service provider:
The psychosocial service provider will give complete and comprehensive psychosocial care according to the needs and wishes of the survivor.

Open a file for the patient or complete the file from the medical service provider.

Make the decision if it is safe for the patient to return home or if the safe room should be used, in consultation with the police and medical services.

Give appropriate follow up of the case to ensure safe reintegration into family and community life.

Work closely with the social workers at health centers to ensure follow up of the patient.

Police investigating officer:
If a case is reported at the gender desk within the center the Police will start an investigation.

Make a report on the case for judiciary investigation including crime scene investigation and collection of physical evidence (in a team with medical professional).

If found necessary for the investigation the police will request the medical service provider for an expert opinion.

The file with all the case information and evidence is forwarded to the authorities (prosecutors’ office).

The police will consider the safety situation for the survivor and follow up the case accordingly.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Isange One Stop Centre is an innovation of the Rwanda National Police as the initiator and implementer of the initiative. As a result of many consultations with various partners and stakeholders in the country, on how best the initiative could support the increasingly number of survivors, a technical team made up medical and clinical psychologists experts from Kacyiru Police Hospital (KPH) was able to come up with a comprehensive project on a holistic package of care services to survivors of SGBV. Thus the project was shared with stakeholders and partners to identify roles and tasks each could take part.
The center works well in a multidisciplinary and multisectoral approach thus government institutions like the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, the Ministry of Justice, the National public Prosecution office, the Gender Monitoring Office alongside One UN Rwanda effectively support technically and financially.
One UN is the major sponsor mainly in outreach programs, advocacy, capacity enhancements as well as equipment and special medications. The One UN is part of the Isange technical team that plans and orients the programs of the centre.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The initiative objectives include bringing together different actors for increased accountability to GBV prevention and response; building police capacity and other service providers for improved service delivery; improving networking between partners and increasing community awareness on GBV prevention and response, increasing communication between service providers and survivors of SGBV for easy access to services.
The initiatives strategies encompass prevention and response mechanisms. Prevention strategies include the establishment of community policing committees and partnership with local leadership, women councils, committees for gender based violence and faith based organization provides an effective communication channel for investigation and attitude change; networking with government, non-governmental organizations and donor agencies to build a stronger synergy for accountability, resource mobilization and advocacy required for effective service delivery to GBV survivors.
Media campaign strategy includes POLICE magazines, Posters, Brochures, Calendars, Stickers, TV and radio spots, news papers, documentary Films all portray the role of the community in the fight against SGBV, messages sensitizing the public on the scourge and how to access different services.
Police week on combating SGBV which is conducted annually country wide in partnership with all stakeholder in the country aimed at sensitizing members of the public on how to detect, prevent and report incidents of SGBV. The collaborative strategy has demonstrated the effective results by involving local administrative structure, community policing committees, women and youth councils, faith based organizations and schools.
The response strategy; includes free service delivery including medico-legal, medical, legal aid psychosocial/counseling and safe room services in the centre. Survivors who stay in the safe room, receive basic services like feeding, clothing and shelter.
In order to effectively implement the above strategy, the National Police established free telephone hotlines 3512 and 3029, 112 operating nationwide enabling victims to report incidents of SGBV and receive immediate response from service providers. In this regard, other hotlines have been set up including 3945 in the army gender desk and 3677 in prosecution gender desk which facilitate interagency response to SGBV survivors.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Establishment of child and family protection unit in 2001

Establishment of Rwanda National Police’s Gender Desk in 2005;

As a way of strengthening gender desk, directorate of Anti-GBV and child protection created 2011.

The establishment of community policing committees in 2007.

Formation of technical committee on development of a comprehensive project comprised of medical, clinical psychologists and police experts in 2007.

Validation and approval of the project by stakeholders and partners 2008

The training of service providers on handling multidisciplinary investigation and intervention on SGBV survivors 2008.

The Launching of ISANGE One Stop centre in 2009 for survivors with a holistic package of services.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words

The holistic package of services is still provided by one centre therefore survivors may have to travel long distance to access them.
Limited logistical support such as lack of enough vehicles for quick response, this indicates the need for continued partnership in terms of resource mobilization.
Limited appropriate interview rooms for SGBV survivors at police station level
Limited number of anti-GBV specialized police officers in handling SGBV survivors compared to the problem magnitude.
Shortage of other specialties that have been included in the holistic package to minimize referrals to other hospitals.


The 7 years’ Government program on the scale up of the centre to District hospitals is underway.

The police have engaged in human resource development where the police opened up partnerships with national and international universities to educate service providers in different skills.

The Hospital and the police have encouraged the on-job trainings in specialized courses for better service delivery.

The police have a long term program on upgrading police stations which will encompass standard interview rooms for SGBV survivors.

Collaborative and networking for effective service delivery has been enhanced and soon many government hospitals will provide such services at a decentralized level.

The presence of a strong political will at national level, the presence of a friendly and able civil society and international agencies for technical and financial support are reliable resources for sustainability of the initiatives.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The Initiative received a support from the Rwandan Government and benefited from Government Budget which covers the running costs including salaries of staffs. This was facilitated by the relevancy of this concept of One stop center for GBV prevention and response as well as the government commitment to end violence against women.
The initiative also received a positive echo and a financial support from One UN Rwanda including UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and UNDP. Areas of funding include capacity building for Police, consultative meetings for improved service delivery for GBV survivors with medical, prosecution, civil society and legal practitioners, awareness raising for community members and local leadership on GBV, provision of equipment- computers, office furniture, monitoring camera, a motor vehicle for field response, development of advocacy materials and messages including posters, stickers, brochures, sketches, TV and radio broadcasts.
The benefits encountered were that the police was able to deliver quick and standard services on a timely basis to support the survivors and the judiciary for rendering timely justice. It was envisaged that multisectoral approaches can work suitably in handling such situations of SGBV.
Financial resources were mobilized through appropriate planning and elaboration of reliable project proposals submitted to various development partners.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The initiative sustainability lies primarily to the existence of a very strong political will and the existing policy and legal frameworks necessary for a successful implementation.

The law on prevention and punishment of Gender based Violence is in force and the Rwandan government is committed to the implementation of its international commitments such as the Convention on Elimination of All Discrimination against Women, Convention on Childs rights, Beijing Platform of Action and the millennium development goals.

The initiative’s sustainability and transferability are also assured since one stop center’s staffs are government workers paid by government and the project work lies within their terms of reference for day to day work. This eliminates the risk that if the project external funds are terminated then the project staffs would be laid off.

The concept of coordinated and centralized service delivery in one stop-centre based in police hospital is also sustainable since all the human resource including medical staff , police officers, clinical psychologists, social workers, mental health specialists are all government workers. The availability of the physical infrastructure within the government hospitals is an indication that management and extension of similar services is possible.

The involvement of community based structures such as community policing committees, committees to fight gender based violence at village level, representatives of women councils and establishment of anti-gender based violence clubs in schools makes the project work sustainable as these are well informed structures with first hand information on the ground and fit well within the local governance structure.

Another factor that shows sustainability is synergies between various government institutions including the police, the ministry of health, the prosecution office, the justice sector and other actors from the civil society and private sector organizations like PROFEMME TWESE HAMWE (an umbrella for women’s organizations in Rwanda, HAGRURUKA (child and women protection in Rwanda), FACT RWANDA (forum of activists against torture), IMBUTO FOUNDATION (First Lady’s initiative for promoting women’s leadership), AVEGA (genocide survivors’ organizations), YOUTH GENERATION WITH A VISION, ABUNDANT LIFE CENTRE and other many Faith-based organisations and Transporters Associations, and many others.
Finally, the partnership with faith based organizations for community change of attitude through sensitization will increase sustainability since these are good channels of communication to reach out as many people as possible.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The impact is visible through the quality of services provided by the centre, especially the caseload being handled by the centre everyday that goes up to 6 cases per day.
Quick service delivery and the level of reporting increased tremendously indicating that the public is much informed about the services rendered.
It has become a learning center for university students who carry internship as part of their bachelors’ degree. Also the center has become a replicable project to the region where neighbouring countries have paid study visits in order to set up such facilities to assist their communities.

Lessons learned:

The major lesson is that the holistic approach of providing a comprehensive package of multi-services to survivors is commendable in order to manage adequately and effectively GBV consequences. The diversified partnership is of paramount importance in efforts to ensure ownership, synergies and collaboration in preventing GBV and VAW in adequate and sustainable manner.
The referral system works perfectly well with other government institutions when it is done by the police after thorough investigations and adequate documentation in order to provide quality and timely justice.
The project has provided experience that gender based violence has many risky factors including cultural beliefs that set unequal power relations between men and women, ignorance on legal rights, women’s poverty and though an issue of human rights it is also a health and development issue therefore needs a holistic approach for its prevention and response.

It was realized that having legal and policy frameworks alone cannot address the issue of gender based violence since it’s deeply embedded within the socialization process, therefore a more holistic approaches need to be undertaken for change of attitude and practices within the community.

Bringing together all partners ranging from government, civil society, faith based organization, communities and the donor community has been of added value to the project success, each of the partners contributing to improved service delivery within their mandates.

The concept of community policing has empowered the community to be sensitive in crime detection, prevention and reporting in partnership with security organs.

Contact Information

Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   GORETH MWENZANGU
Telephone/ Fax:   +250785524972
Institution's / Project's Website:
Postal Code:  
City:   KIGALI
State/Province:   KIGALI CITY
Country:   Rwanda

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