Facts leading to the Suspension of Miss Rwanda Pageant over Sexual Assault:
The Miss Rwanda pageant has been postponed until further notice while investigations into suspected incidences of sexual assault in the pageantry are underway. The beauty contest has been suspended following the arrest of its organizer, Dieudonné Ishimwe, in late April on charges of sexual assault.
This news of a postponed pageant comes after the arrest of the official who is suspected of sexual exploitation of candidates who have competed in the Miss Rwanda pageant in the past. The Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) is looking into Ishimwe, also known as Prince Kid, who is the CEO of Rwanda Inspiration Backup, the organization that organizes the Miss Rwanda pageant.
“Following the ongoing RIB investigations into the sexual abuse allegations of Miss Rwanda contestants leveled against the CEO of Rwanda Inspiration Backup, committed at different times of the pageantry, the Ministry of Youth and culture informs the public that it has suspended Miss Rwanda competitions pending ongoing investigations,” said a statement from Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth and Culture that was released on Monday, May 9th.
Ishimwe, 36, faces rape, soliciting or providing sexual favors, and harassment allegations. The alleged offenses happened over a period of many years after he took over the pageant’s management in 2014.
An Eyeopener into this Sexual Assault
Miss Rwanda’s sex scandal was exposed after current Miss Rwanda Nshuti Divine Muheto recently spoke out and provided a tape of Ishimwe requesting sexual favors. Elsa Iradukunda, Miss Rwanda 2017 winner, was also detained by the Rwanda Investigations Bureau for allegedly attempting to hamper the ongoing investigations by using falsified documents.
According to sources, the former beauty queen, who is alleged to be dating the troubled pageant boss, has been pressuring victims who testified against Ishimwe to sign written documents stating that they have never been sexually assaulted by him.
President Paul Kagame has also advised young women to report any inappropriate males or sexual assaults to authorities.
President Kagame stated the instances extended beyond sexual assault of participants by organizers to the trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation during an address at the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) convention recently. He also voiced his displeasure with the growing trend of human trafficking in the country, as the bulk of victims are converted into sex slaves in Gulf, Middle East, and Asian countries.
Rape carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in Rwanda. President Kagame advocated for tougher punishments for offenders of gender-based violence last year. He had stated, “We should put all our efforts into fighting these crimes and ensure that it reduces significantly. The authors of this crime, their accomplices, and those that protect them should face tough punishment. It must be made costly for anyone who attempts to do that,” he told stakeholders in the justice sector during the launch of the 2022 judicial year.