At least 30% of women in Rwanda will experience domestic violence alone, which excludes other gendered violence in the community. Too many girls and young women are victims of sexual abuse, violence and oppression, and know no alternative because of economic dependency, threats, family pressure, and a lack of access to support.
At Abatuje House, we provide safe shelter and support to girls and young women escaping violence, oppression and sexual abuse. The name Abatuje means ‘those who are at peace with themselves’, something we aim to achieve for all of the young women we help. In order to find peace, they need to feel a number of things:
- Security – we provide a house in our Centre, sharing grounds with government buildings where safety is ensured.
- Good health – we pay for emergency medical care and ongoing treatment and medical insurance for longer term conditions such as HIV. This is partnered with thorough education about reproductive health and family planning to prevent unwanted pregnancies or HIV.
- Justice against those who have perpetrated crimes against them – we offer representation and advocacy to the local authorities and police, as well as assistance in the courts when necessary. Furthermore, we have recently partnered with an organisation of Austrian doctors to build a laboratory facility on our land that can provide testing for HIV and other diseases and also paternity as evidence in legal cases.
- Empowerment and Self-confidence – critical for young women who have been victims of abuse and sexual violence so they are able to have positive happy futures. A solid sense of positive self-worth also helps ensure they can avoid situations of abuse in the future. We help restore this through counselling, and also by empowering them with independence through formal education, vocational training and an organised plan for reintegration into their families, working cooperatives with other women, or our social enterprise African Sewing Club.
We have a long-term open-house policy where we continue to provide support after reintegration through continued contact. Those that cannot be safely reintegrated and cared for by the community can continue to receive permanent shelter with us, and we will continue to support them for as long as they need. We have seen real success with the young women we have worked with.
BUY PRODUCTS MADE BY ABATUJE RESIDENTS
At Shop4Rwanda, and African Sewing Club you can purchase products made by residents and past-residents of Abatuje House. All profits go back to the producers and to Centre Marembo, ensuring we can continue to help those who need it.