Dr. Abel Dushimiyimana Minister of Health Ministry of Health B.P. 84 Kigali Rwanda Dr. Innocent NYARUHIRIRA Minister of State in Charge of HIV/AIDS and Other Infectious Disease Ministry of Health B.P. 84 Kigali Rwanda
Subject: Survivors of sexual violence living with HIV/ AIDS Dear Minister, Amnesty International welcomes Rwanda’s efforts in combating HIV/AIDS and in taking concrete steps to eradicate sexual violence and discrimination against women. As a member of Amnesty, I believe it would be a great step forward if the Rwandan Government could also send a clear message that sexual violence against women is not acceptable and that those responsible for this crime will be brought to justice. It is a great tragedy that so many women’s lives have been destroyed during the Rwandan genocide and war. Being a victim of sexual violence and infected with HIV means being even more marginalised and stigmatised in Rwandan society. The Rwandan authorities should therefore give greater priority and resources to developing educational programs for community leaders and the public on the importance of not stigmatising female victims of rape or women living with HIV/AIDS. These programs should preferably be carried out in collaboration with international organisations and provide material informing people of women’s rights, particularly what health care is available and how to proceed if they or members of their families are victims of sexual violence. Programs should address the needs of both rural and urban populations. It would have a major impact if such programs focus on male partners/ family members of women living with HIV/AIDS. The programs furthermore should involve associations assisting people living with HIV/ AIDS as well as national NGOs, to ensure that both resources and information are efficient. However, it remains absolutely crucial that the Rwandan authorities provide free access to medical care and voluntary testing for HIV/AIDS to survivors of sexual violence, as well as free psychological counselling for rape survivors. I urge you to ensure that all decisions and policies concerning the provision of health care are consistent with democratic principles of transparency at all levels of coordinating structures. Acknowledging that resources to implement such policies in the country are limited, Amnesty has decided to appeal to the international community to secure commitments to support Rwanda both politically and financially in the implementation of these programs.
Yours respectfully and sincerely,