UN, experts, activists unite, call for action against SGBV

As Uganda on Saturday joined the rest of the global community to end the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, it was established that it remains a breed of perpetrators of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

This is despite the government establishing a gender-sensitive legal and policy framework against the vice, according to SGBV activists.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Ms Susan Namondo, said violence is denying women and girls their basic rights and freedoms which limits their participation in all areas of life.

She advised that Uganda has to focus on behaviour change aspects of violence by teaching the citizens how to choose better options.

“There is a growing body of rigorously tested interventions that demonstrate that violence against women and girls can prevented. But of course, it requires commitment. From all of us and self-reflection on how individually and societally we can undertake actions to change this habit,” she advised.

Ms Namondo hailed the Church of Uganda for fighting against GBV.

“We have seen church leaders including the Church of Uganda holding services and prayers for solidarity to end GBV and calling on faith leaders and all key stakeholders to renew their commitment to ending violence against women and girls,” she said.

The Country Representative – Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Julien Attakla-Ayinon, observed that violations of women’s rights especially on SGBV remain in Uganda; calling for everybody’s efforts and responsibility to act.

He said SGBV occurs both online and offline inflicting harm on women and girls as well men and boys.

“Its disproportionate impact on women and girls is a serious human rights concern and comes at a steep cost which cannot be overemphasised.”

However, Mr Julien commended the government of Uganda is much to fight against the vice by adopting laws and policies that integrate human rights standards and seek to address women rights and SGBV.

“These two are signals of the commitment of the government to ensuring the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls, as the Constitution of Uganda provides for equality and freedom from discrimination.”

However, Mr Julien decried that despite the Human Rights Enforcement Act 2019, the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009 and the Public Finance Management Act 2015 which also provides for gender-responsive budgeting, the challenge to advancing women’s rights and ending SGBV still abound.

Ms Jacklet Atuhaire, the Commissioner at the Uganda Human Rights Commission, said violence against women is not only criminal but also has long lasting effects on the physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health of women.

“We need to strengthen advocacy on SGBV, creating awareness on its dangers and hoping this symposium is used as a stepping stone to benchmark commitments on ending violence against women and girls.”

Seasoned Human rights activist, Dr Miria Matembe, decried the missing gaps in the judiciary to address issues of SGBV.

“We need to invest more efforts in efficient implementation of the laws and policies which address gender-based violence that Uganda has in place. This will propel our efforts to end SGBV.” She said.

The Executive Director Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), a coalition that brings together CSOs and individuals in Uganda to engage in influencing the budget processes, Mr Julius Mukunda, said “Government should include GBV among its priorities because if it has funds for emergency activities that should definitely be included in fighting GBV.”

Ms Rachel Ogolla a Programme Specialist Gender and Human Rights at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), highlighted the increased vulnerabilities of women and girls amidst Covid-19, Ebola, conflicts and climate change.

“When issues like conflict occur, social protection initiatives are weakened and women are exposed to higher risks of gender-based violence in their communities. Same applies to climate change where women face a burden of domestic care work.”

She also emphasised the need to localise the conversations of human rights protection and interventions to end SGBV in various communities in their diversities, noting that it will go a long way to create a lasting change.


The Police Crime Report for 2021indicates that a total of 17,533 domestic violence cases; 1,486 cases of rape; 14,570 cases of defilement, and 16,373 sex-related crimes were registered last year.

It is also noted that many cases remain unreported.

Despite the high numbers, prosecution rates remain low which is a direct indicator of the low access to justice for survivors of GBV.

For instance, in 2021, only 1,640 (9.3%) of domestic violence cases were taken to court and only 464 (2.6%) cases secured convictions.

Only 667 rape suspects (44.8%) of the total cases) were charged in court with a mere 25 (1.7%) convictions secured.

Similarly, only 42% of the registered defilement cases ended up in court with only 939 cases securing convictions.


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