KIGALI, RWANDA – As the Rwandan judge handed down the sentence, his message was clear: The sexual abuse against Tamara* was wrong, and her attacker would be held accountable for it.
Nearly one year ago, 15-year-old Tamara was sleeping quietly in the front room of her family's small home. Her father's friend, at the family's house for a visit, had fallen asleep in a chair nearby. But in the middle of the night, he woke up and raped Tamara, all while her family slept in the very next room.
When Tamara's mother found out what happened, she immediately reported the abuse to local security leaders and a church, who referred her to IJM. Police directed the family to a nearby hospital, where Tamara received the urgent care she needed.
Since the attack, IJM social workers have supported Tamara, and she has nearly completed a trauma-focused therapy program.
Meanwhile, IJM worked with police to arrest Tamara's attacker and stood up for her in court. IJM attorneys worked closely with a state prosecutor to build a strong case, including the medical report and security leaders' testimonies. Tamara's own brave testimony convinced the judge of the terrible crime. On September 21, 2012, the court found Tamara's abuser guilty and sentenced him to 25 years in prison—the maximum sentence for this crime. The judge also demanded he pay a hefty fine to Tamara.
"We are very happy that the judge punished Tamara's abuser according to the law and awarded Tamara a significant amount in damages," said IJM Rwanda Legal Consultant James Nuwagaba. "[This] will allow her and her family to continue on the road to recovery."
Earlier this year, IJM helped Tamara's father start a small business, and he is eager to provide a safe and strong future for his family. When Tamara's family found out about the conviction, they danced in the courtroom—relieved and thankful that justice had actually been done.
*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.