Social media storm over rape claims forces Rwanda police to act

Sunday January 7 2018

Secondary school students attend a gender-based

Secondary school students attend a gender-based violence workshop in Rwanda. The police encourage the public to report crimes on a toll-free line, 3512. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

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The Rwanda police says it will launch an investigation into multiple rape allegations that recently trended on social media in a bid to bring the perpetrators to book.

In a similar situation to the sexual assault allegations that rocked public figures in the US and United Kingdom last year, a social media storm started when several women — using an anonymous social media account — made rape allegations against men they said had gone unpunished.

Some of the allegations date back to 2012.

On Wednesday last week, the police confirmed to Rwanda Today that two of the women have filed formal complaints, which will form the basis for investigations.

“Such cases are handled confidentially and we cannot provide any details right now. But we take such allegations seriously and we will investigate them fully to ascertain the truth,” said police spokesperson Theos Badege.

The allegations divided social media users with some applauding the women for their bravery in coming out to name and shame the alleged rapists, while others warned that it could encourage the spread of malicious allegations and blackmail especially given that one of the alleged offenders was a prominent businessman.