Activists condemn Gender-Based Violence in Uganda’s oil industry

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Women holding a placard against gender-based violence after a workshop at Glory Summit Hotel in Hoima Town at the weekend. (Photo by John Kibego)

Hoima

Gender and Women Rights Programme Officer in the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Saustine Namanya has decried the low government and extractive companies’ intervention in protecting women against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in mineral-rich areas.

During a one-on-one interview with Kazi-Njema News in Hoima Town at the weekend, Namanya noted that women in such areas are subjected to injustice. She observed that women have been neglected in policy and decision making on properties especially in the Albertine Graben.

The programme officer said this is more evidenced in compensation and land distribution processes. She noted that economic projects have increased GBV yet they could be at the helm of combating and ending it.

“Women in mineral-rich areas do not live a dignified life on a daily basis. Instead of seeing gender violence reducing, economic projects merely increase it at household level and places of work. Their voices are neither prioritised in policy and decision making nor visible to legislators, policy makers, mandated institutions and government officials,” she said.

Namanya wants culprits of gender-based violence to be accountable for the injustice. Her comments follow NAPE’s sensitisation workshop for women in oil-rich areas about GBV.

Women participants drawn from oil-rich Hoima and Buliisa Districts at Glory Summit Hotel in Hoima town watched a documentary film showing gender-based violence in Hoima and Buliisa and the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.

The documentary showed the violence women in such areas experience.

During the workshop, the Hoima district women council chairperson, Margaret Ruhiigwa lamented the violence against women after relocation and resettlement to pave way for the construction of the oil refinery in Kabaale Parish, Buseruka Sub-county in Hoima District.

She faulted government for building houses for the resettled persons in a camp design, causing discomfort among women occupants. Ruhiigwa said prior to relocation, people lived on widely spaced land.

“Women who once had privacy in their homes are now exposed to the entire camp community yet secrecy among them is paramount in their life. This is violence against women.”

Joy Rufunda, a visually impaired participant, decried the injustice women in Rwamutonga village, Bugambe sub-county now in Kikuube District suffered when one of them said in the film that security agents tear-gassed, beat up and left her husband laying unconscious in the bush when 250 families were brutally being evicted from a chunk of land to pave way for the construction of an oil waste treatment plant.

The families were evicted from two villages including Rwamutonga and Kigyayo with titles in the name of Joshua Tibagwa and Robert Bansigaraho in August 2014.

Women and their families resorted to living in Kakopo Internally Displaced Camp until court overruled the eviction.

Rufunda condemned the incident saying it was demoralising. “It was traumatising! I imagine, had that man been my husband, how could I have found him? How could I have nursed him when I am visually impaired?! Women always suffer”, she said.

She also decried rape and sexual harassment against women who should otherwise be protected against mistreatment as per the United Nations resolutions.

The United Nations Population Fund says violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent violations in worldwide. UNPF estimates that one in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual experience in her life. The United Nations Development Programme (

UNDP) says, globally, 35 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment. UNDP works with executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, security agencies, public prosecutors, women’s groups, civil society organisations and movements, private sector, traditional, community and religious leaders to end GBV.

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