21 July 2008
Rape in Burundi – demand justice now!

13 year old Kaneza (not her real name) from the province of Bujumbura rural was raped by a 22-year-old man in September 2007. Kaneza didn’t tell anyone about the rape, until she found that she was pregnant. She told her uncle's wife, who immediately reported the rape to the police.

Survivors of rape at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) centre in Bujumbura, Burundi.The alleged perpetrator was arrested and questioned, and confessed to the rape. Kaneza’s family thought that this would be enough to prosecute the perpetrator, though he was released several days later.

Local human rights activists have reported that the father of the perpetrator approached the Public Prosecutor of Bujumbura Rural and proposed an out-of-court settlement.

When the family spoke to the Prosecutor of Bujumbura Rural, he forced them to agree to an "amicable settlement" and cease

© Carl De Keyzer/Magnum Photos

legal proceedings.  Kaneza’s family complained to the judicial authorities in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. 

The Prosecutor was then ordered by them to re-arrest the alleged perpetrator. He didn’t do this, but instead detained Kaneza for several hours and threatened her.

Kaneza recently gave birth to a child. The man who allegedly raped her remains free.

Rape is widespread throughout Burundi, though many cases, like that of Kaneza, remain unprosecuted. Women are often too afraid to even report the crime out of fear that their families and communities will reject them.

The justice system is flawed. The police and judiciary often fail to investigate reports of rape and other sexual assaults or prosecute those accused of committing such offences.

Sometimes victims are forced to withdraw their complaints and enter into negotiated settlements with the perpetrator or his family outside of the formal judicial system. Sometimes the victim is also forced to marry her attacker.


Take Action 

Write to the Public Prosecutor in Burundi to demand that the alleged rape of Kaneza is investigated and the suspect brought to justice. 

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