As the political heat gets turned up, the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze has called on voters to shun contenders with a history of perpetrating Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The Minister notes that such persons are not fit to be entrusted with elective public offices.
“We should extend the fight against GBV to the political sphere. Anyone, be it a man or woman, who has previously battered their partners or engaged in any form of GBV shouldn’t be voted into office. Deny these people your votes.” Tumwebaze noted adding that this will bolster the fight against the vice and make it a concern for everyone as it should be.
The Minister made the remarks while addressing selected district leaders and senior citizens during a “scientific” launch of the nationwide payments for older persons under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) programme at Kabarole district headquarters last week.
According to the Minister, GBV has remained prevalent despite its adverse effects because the general public and responsibility holders aren’t according the vice the attention it deserves.
“It’s not strange to find a police officer, sometimes a female officer, asking a fellow woman who has been tortured to return home and sort the issue from there,” he said.
“What’s there to be sorted? First, you are sending a victim back to their tormentors and secondly, this is total undermining of the judicial provisions that dictate justice for everyone” the Minister observed.
Figures from the Uganda Police Force indicate that over 10,000 GBV cases have to-date been officially registered since the first lockdown was announced in March. It’s feared that many more cases have gone unregistered.
A report by the United Nations entity for gender equality and empowerment (UN Women) said there is a wide under-reporting of GBV.
“Less than 40% of women who experience GBV seek help of any sort or report the crime, and less than 10% of those women go to the police,” the report read in part.
The majority of the victims have been women and girls.
Various NGOs have also noted that preventing and responding to GBV during the lockdown presents real challenges, as the usual remedial mechanisms are curtailed.
ActionAid Uganda observed that the lockdown presents the perpetuators the perfect environment to further violate their victims.
“For example, the demand that everyone stays at home makes it easy to isolate and control a victim because safety nets like family, shelters and NGOs are not accessible.
At the same time accessing justice institutions like court or the police is not easy without public transport. For those trapped in violent relationships, this presents a mammoth challenge of surviving GBV while cooped up with their abusers.”
Minister Tumwebaze reiterated his call on the duty bearers along the referral pathway including LCs, Police, community leaders, Community Development Officers (CDOs), religious and cultural leaders to act tough and squarely against perpetrators of GBV if the vice is to be defeated.
“These acts of violence degrade the dignity of humanity and are therefore unacceptable. The perpetrators of this vice must be dealt with decisively and in a timely manner in accordance with the law,” the Minister said.