STOP THE POLICING OF WOMEN’S BODIES IN RWANDA!
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We Rwandan Feminists and allies of Feminism, petition Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture (RALC), the National Itorero Commission (NIC) and any other institutions or individuals to stop policing and restricting women and girls’ bodily autonomy and freedom on baseless grounds of ‘culture’.
On 24th October 2018, NIC issued a letter announcing the expulsion of a Rwandan female artist named UzamberumwanaOdda Paccy from Itorero on the basis of her sharing a cover photo of her song and a song title that were considered “inappropriate according to Rwandan values”. On 29th October 2018, we learnt of the banning of Rwandan representative at Miss Supranational Ms Munyaneza Djazira on the basis of her sharing photos that were deemed “inappropriate and against Rwandan values”.
Whereas we stand against sexual objectification of women’s bodies in any form without one’s consent and choice, we support a woman’s autonomy and freedom of expressions over her own body. We are therefore greatly concerned that these actions of punishing, censoring and controlling women’s bodies are deeply rooted in the patriarchal system that seeks to control women and require them to dress and behave conservatively or in ways that are “appealing” to others but not to themselves. These actions greatly undermine and contradict Rwanda’s celebrated achievements in advancing women’s rights, liberties and their empowerment in all aspects, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Taboos on sexuality and restricting women’s bodily autonomy and freedom have dire consequences including persistent high rates of sexual abuse and unwanted teenage pregnancies and it threatens their ability to express themselves and to reach their full potential.
Furthermore, we note that these actions are not by coincidence directed towards women nor do they have to do with culture as RALC and NIC have indicated, rather they are gender biased actions that are meant to undermine, disempower, demean and punish women for acting contrary to patriarchy standards.
As Rwandan Feminists and allies, we applaud the Government’s efforts to uplift women by ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment are attained, and we embrace positive aspects of our culture. We also recognize that culture evolves and morals are subjective and cannot be policed; therefore we support unlearning of negative cultural practices and cultural restrictions that in any way shutter women and girls’ dreams, ambitions or aspirations.
We call upon Rwanda National Academy of Languages and Culture, the National Itorero Commission and any other institutions or individuals to uphold and respect women’s bodily autonomy and freedom and to put an end to policing women’s bodies.
Please sign this petition to demand an end to policing women’s bodies in Rwanda.
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