Following the increased number of cases related to sexual and Gender-based violence in Uganda during the lockdown period, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum has launched a helpline for victims and other members of the public through which they will be able to report cases on top of other services.
According to recent statistics from Uganda Police, they registered an overwhelming number of sexual and gender-based violence during these three months of Coronavirus lockdown.
The most common cases included sexual exploitation and abuse, child marriages, and denial of essential sexual and reproductive health services such as contraception and maternal health care.
On launching this 24/7 helpline (Suubi), Patrick Mwesigye, the UYAHF team leader revealed that they found this innovation important so as to provide an affordable and efficient means for victims and other people in communities to report cases for redress.
“Many of the adolescents continue to struggle with the accessibility to sexual and reproductive health information, services, and items and don’t know how to seek or get support. Many adolescents and young women in Uganda are also experiencing various forms of abuse and don’t have the knowledge on how to go about reporting these cases,” remarked Mwesigye.
“Suubi means hope which is exactly what we are trying to bring to these young people. Any Ugandan individual will be able to call 256 759 479 995, SMS, or contact the Suubi helpline through WhatsApp and they will be responded to by trained counselors and nurses, or referred onto the correct service for support. Some of the best things about it are that the helpline will be entirely confidential, free, and operated 24/7,” he added.
He also pointed out that the helpline will provide accurate information, counseling, and support as well as timely referral services.
That this service will be accessible by all people in the country regardless of ethnicity, tribe, orientation, age, or sex provided that they need support regarding sexual and reproductive health and maternal health.
Using the same platform, callers will also be able to access Probono legal services, advice on sexual and gender-based violence.
It’s not news that most victims of the sexual abuse have been shy to report these cases which has left many perpetrators untouched within the community and thus the dire need for such services.