Ugandans urged to speak out against gender based violence during Covid-19 lockdown

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Gender and Culture State Minister, Ms Peace Mutuuzo

Ugandans have been urged to report Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases surging especially during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

The urge was made by Gender and Culture State Minister, Ms Peace Mutuuzo, after police reports indicated that GBV cases have increased with some claiming lives of people across the country.

Records in the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the police show that 10,280 GBV cases were recorded from January to April, 2020.

Records indicate that domestic violence including infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse and failure to provide for the family stands at 46.8%, defilement stands at 43.2% while rape stands at 5.6%. 86% of the victims are women and girls.

The country has also registered 161 cases of murders resulting from domestic violence, the police adds.

The minister attributes GBV cases in the country to key drivers including negative social norms that discriminate against women and girls, masculinity, poverty and polygamy.

“Reports from across the country show that due to poverty, some men have abandoned their responsibilities and women are left solely to maintain the household yet men as heads of households, society accords them superior treatment,’ she said.

“The combination of poverty, multiple sexual partnerships and economic stress due to shrinking incomes at household level has led to physical fights over basic needs, hence deteriorating the GBV situation in homes, Ms Mutuuzo said while appearing in the media this morning.

The minister advised the victims and the entire community to speak out against the vice.

“Violence against women and children is unacceptable. It is a public health issue and affects all of us. It is our shared responsibility to stop violence against women, children and other vulnerable people like older persons and persons with disabilities. When you experience any form of gender based violence during COVID-19 lockdown, break the silence. Report any incidents to your LC Chairman or nearest police station/post or through the Sauti 116,” she said.

“I call upon all political and technical leaders in particular the RDCs, DPCs, DISOs, DCDOs, Probation Officers and councillors to support women and children survivors of GBV during this time of Covid-19 to access appropriate services through the police, health facilities and local courts. Medical practitioners, please attend to the needs of women and children survivors of violence including conducting thorough medical examinations which will inform legal investigations and action.”

Appearing on the same talk show, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative for Uganda, Mr Alain Sibeneler, urged all stakeholders to prioritise the fight against GBV since it is a global issue that affects human rights and development.

“Government, donors, policy makers and humanitarian organisations should prioritise and officially recognise GBV services as an essential and lifesaving component of the humanitarian response to Covid-19.

“It is crucial for the government, donors, policy makers and implementing organisations to prioritise GBV prevention, response and risk mitigation approaches as essential parts of Covid-19-related programming. Without adequate funding and political will, it will not be possible for GBV interventions to be carried out effectively,” he observed.

Government through the Ministry of Gender, Lbaour and Social Development has recently intensified efforts to fight and eliminate GBV through community sensitisation, women empowerment and collaborations with other stakeholders among other efforts.

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