The State Minister for Gender and Culture, Peace Mutuuzo has urged Ugandans to speak out against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in their communities especially during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic lockdown that has seen a surge in the number of reported GBV cases.
Police has reported an increase in cases of gender based violence throughout the Country during the Covid-19 Pandemic, some of which have already claimed the lives of Uganda.
According to Police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate, a total of 10,280 cases of GBV have been reported from January-April 2020.
46.8% of are cases are domestic violence (including failure to provide for the family, infidelity and drug and alcohol abuse), 43.2% are cases of defilement and 5.6% are cases of rape. 86 of the victims are women and girls.
Uganda has also registered 161 cases of murders resulting from domestic violence.
According to Minister Mutuuzo, some of the key drivers of GBV in Uganda include negative social norms which discriminate against women and girls, polygamy, masculinity and poverty.
“Reports from across the country show that due to poverty, some men have abandoned their responsibilities and women are solely left to maintain the households yet men as head of households, society accords them superior treatment. The combination of poverty, multiple sexual partnerships and economic stress due to shrinking incomes at the household level has led to physical fights over basic needs hence deteriorating the GBV situation in homes,” Minister Mutuuzo said while appearing in the media today morning
She urged community members and women who are victims to always speak out and seek help whenever they experience GBV.
“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 the nearest Police Station/Post or through the Sauti 116,” she said.
“I call upon the all Political and Technical Leaders, in particular the RDCs, DPCs, DISOs, DCDOs, Probation Officers and Councilors to support 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 the women and children survivors of violence including conducting thorough medical examinations which will inform legal investigations and actions.”
The UNFPA Country representative for Uganda, Alain Sibenaler while appearing on the same talk show urged all stakeholders to priotise fight against GBV as its a global issue that affects human rights and development.
“Government, Donors and Policy makers and humanitarian organizations should prioritize and officially recognize 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 organizations to prioritize 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 noted.
The Government of Uganda through Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development has recently intensified efforts to fight and eliminate GBV through community sensitisation, women empowerment, collaborations with other stakeholders among other efforts.