Failing to provide food for the family would not be a problem, after all these women grow a variety of food crops but what is bothering women in Rulindo is lack of a voice over the property of their homes, what they grow for the family is sold by men without their consent.
This leaves women and their children at the mercy of what would not be sold, or perhaps if a woman has money that she can pay the husband as compensation for the food item to be sold.
“When there is a banana in our field, my husband sells it and goes to drink beer, so, when I want to cook it, I give him money got from cultivating for others,” laments Consolee Nkomari from Kinihira sector, Rulindo district.
Nkomari’s husband tells her to always cook rice alone while her and children are eating sweet potatoes only, and are not even allowed to sell some of them to buy vegetables. With this, children are unable to get a balanced diet which nutritionists say result into malnutrition and related diseases as well as poverty.
“My children have suffered for malnutrition for too long till I asked health counselor for help and give me shisha kibondo. But it is shame because we are farmers and my husband is always drunk,” said Mbonimpa, a resident of Butunzi cell, Kinihira sector.
Women attribute this to lack of rights over the property which implies that whatever the man decides, the woman cannot refute even when it brings problems to the entire family.
Accordingly, the law n°59/2008 of 10/09/2008 on prevention and punishment of gender- based violence, forbids to harass, to deprive one’s spouse of the right to property.
Moreover, reporting such issues to local authorities do not change the situation, women say.
“I told my problem to cell executive secretary and my husband said he is too poor and has to sometimes sell home property to solve other problems, and what he did was to only advise him but it is still the same as before.” Nkomari added.
Marie Claire Gasanganwa, Vice mayor in charge of social affairs in Rulindo district says although her office has not yet received such cases, the issue of denial of property rights by men exists and efforts are in place to end it.
“Yeah there are still men and even women themselves who take women as not the owners of the households and cannot participate in decision making, but we go on teaching.”
Experts attribute the looming property rights abuse by men to lack of sensitization and awareness on property rights especially for married couples which makes husbands take advantage over their wives.