UGANDA: Prevent Violence Against Women to Create a Peaceful Nation

Monday, November 28, 2011
New Vision
Eastern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

As ACFODE celebrates her 26th birthday this month, and as the country prepares for the 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Based Violence (GBV), ACFODE wishes to express concern over the high levels of violence against women in Uganda, and to emphasize that such acts are a violation of their human rights, peaceful existence in homes, communities and in the nation.

Gender-based violence exists in many forms – physical, sexual, psychological and economic. It can be seen in the
form of violence occurring within the family setting , such as domestic violence, marital rape, harmful traditional practices, and killings, as well as in the community, such as sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, or in trans-border contexts, such as in the case of trafficking of women and girls. These are only a few examples, as
violence against women exists in myriad other forms.

As women suffer these violations, they also have to cope with discriminatory laws and deeply entrenched gender
inequality. It's no wonder they live traumatic lives. When we wake up every day and listen to the radio, read a
newspaper or watch the television, we are confronted with the saddening news: domestic violence, rape, defilement,
maternal deaths, murders and gender discrimination among others.

The 2006 Ugandan Demographic and Health survey shows that 39% of women in Uganda have ever experienced Gender Based Violence, compared to 11% of the men. This violence is higher among women in the rural areas than those in urban areas (61% compared to 54%). In Pallisa district for instance, defilement at 80% is ranked as the highest form of sexualized violence against women, followed by rape which is at 60% (ACFODE 2009). These two inequities are also on the rise, according to the Police Crime Report (2010) with Mukono, Lira, Amuria, and Isingiro districts having the highest number of cases.

And when such women seek for justice, there is lack of social support mechanisms because of the strong cultural, family and psychological pressures. Even then, most of the places where these survivors go for legal help are not trained in handling GBV related cases. Some are corrupt such as the police and Local Councils which are alleged to take bribes in cases of GBV, and are part of the culture that
perpetuates violence against women (ACFODE 2011).

For peace to be promoted in homes and the nation, ACFODE stresses the need for women and men of diverse backgrounds, and for political persuasions to act now and
end violence against women. This is because despite the changes over the years in gender awareness, formulation
of the different laws and implementation of programs, GBV problems remain a big challenge.

ACFODE therefore calls on the Government, and other stakeholders to;

• Implement commitments made in existing legislative measures that protect the lives of people especially the vulnerable like women and girls; for instance The Domestic Violence Act 3 (2010), Penal Code amendments prohibiting defilement of girls and boys (2007), and the
Equal Opportunities Commission Act (2007).

• Open up more offices of Uganda Human Rights Commission at local level to increase accessibility by survivors of GBV, meted by both citizens and the duty
bearers like the police.

• Fulfill international commitments government has made by ratifying different regional and international
conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),
the International Criminal Court Act (2010), which criminalizes the sexual exploitation of women during conflict situation, UN Security Council Resolution 1820, and the Goma Declaratio which is against sexual violence and ending impunity against women.

• Pass all pending bills that aim at addressing violence against women, and discrimination against women and
girls such as Sexual Offences Bill and Marriage and Divorce Bill.

• Prioritize women's needs and concerns in plans and budgets, for instance by setting up safe shelters for GBV survivors.