Women with disabilities in Bunyoro have testified that there is some ray of hope that they will get freedom from violence and discrimination.
The social and economic challenges they used to find when many people were not sensitised about the rights of women especially those with disabilities have reduced, they say.
During an engagement organised by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in Hoima city, Ms Grace Tumusiime, one of the women with disabilities in Hoima, said mistreatment against her has since reduced with continued sensitisation and her improved ability to defend her rights.
Crediting NAPE as one of the organisations that have been on the frontline to empower women for this improvement, Ms Tumusiime said that there is still a lot to do because the challenge has been deep-rooted in the community.
She cited issues like family property share and expression as chances still denied.
“Some women with disabilities are now empowered and can speak out and complain contrary to the past when it was worse. If the man has married you, he treats you like his worker and a lesser human being,” she said.
According to her, there is still need for community members to remain vigilant on families living with persons with disabilities to eradicate torture and violence inflicted on them.
Ms Joy Rufunda, the Chairperson for Hoima Blind Women Association, said that girls with disabilities are much in need of protection since they stand more vulnerable to defilement, rape, early pregnancies and assaults since their ability to detect danger and seek help is compromised.
She urged parents and caretakers to always give priority to such girls and women as a way of fighting stigma and discrimination against PWDs.
The same applies to boys and men with disabilities though they may be less vulnerable compared with their female counterparts.
Ms Joan Akiza, the Gender and Legal Affairs officer at the NAPE, said that the engagement was part of their activities marking the Global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
She said as NAPE, they have created safe spaces in different areas to help more women to run to for support.
According to them, they have successfully mediated many cases of GBV and assisted many girls and women.
Ms Akiza added that they use those safe spaces as referral centres where by the police and other stakeholders are involved to ensure cases are successfully handled.
The Legal Officer said NAPE is continuing to engage more groups of women to learn more and forge a way forward since the 16 Days of Activism against GBV are meant for that.
The 16 days campaign against GBV was started by activists at the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. It is used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.