The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among has appealed for the involvement of men and boys in programs aimed at eliminating Gender Based Violence.
Among was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of a campaign dubbed “16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on women and girls at Parliament. The launch was organized by the Uganda Parliamentary Women Association (UWOPA) and was attended by the Ambassadors of the Netherlands and Sweden, among other officials.
The 16 Days of Activism is an annual international campaign observed from 25th November to 10th December 2022 to raise awareness among the population on the dangers of gender-based violence.
According to Among, gender-based violence has become a persistent virus and this calls for a combined effort to eliminate it.
She noted that although Parliament had passed several legislations aimed at eliminating gender-based violence, implementation has remained poor due to budgetary constraints.
Among said that parliament will need to ensure that the laws that seek to eliminate gender-based violence are budgeted for and also appealed to the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development to sensitize the public about the available laws.
“It is one thing to pass a law and another to have it implemented,” she said.
Some of the laws already enacted are the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2010, the Domestic Violence Act, 2010, Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2009, and others.
Sarah Opendi, the UWOPA Chairperson also said that free legal services to victims of gender-based violence will help in the fight against gender-based violence.
Karin Boven, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda said that the 16 days of activism will help Uganda put on the spotlight several cases that continue to be neglected.
Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender said the 16 days campaign will focus on tackling violence at the household level cognizant that many cases happen in homes.
She added that there was a growing trend of violence among couples which the campaign hopes to address, citing the 2021 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report which puts intimate partner sexual violence prevalence at 36 percent and physical violence among women at 47 percent.
Amongi also appealed for the government’s attention to Bukedi sub-region which she said was leading in cases of intimate partner violence at 48 percent, followed by Acholi at 47 percent and Elgon at 33 percent.
During the afternoon plenary sitting, a section of MPs tasked Amongi to conduct the campaign activities in rural areas as opposed to the cities, saying cases are more prevalent in rural areas.
“Sensitization activities seem to be at the upper strata of our society yet gender-based violence is mostly in the rural areas. Can I be told what activity is there in Dokolo so that I can be part of that rural woman who is being abused, who doesn’t know the legal framework to defend her?” Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman MP asked.
Peter Ocen, the Kole South MP) also re-emphasized the Speaker’s plea to empower boys who he said have been neglected.
“We are putting much emphasis on girl children and our boys are going astray, if you go to the villages the roles that men used to play have been relegated to women, its women who pay school fees, who take care of homes,” he said.
Geoffrey Kayemba Ssolo, the Bukomansimbi South MP also said that boys equally need empowerment so that they can be responsible.
MPs also appealed for the expeditious handling of gender-based violence cases by the judiciary noting the 2021 Police report that documented a poor conviction rate.