By J Emodek, P Kwesiga and H Nsambu
Female judges are concerned about the increasing cases of domestic violence despite the existence of the law to support prosecution of such cases.
The judges under the National Association of Women Judges-Uganda (NAWJU) blamed the escalating cases of gender-based domestic violence on limited knowledge of the law key players for example, judges, lawyers, victims and police.
The president of the association, Stella Arach Amoko said their recent study revealed that although judges and magistrates knew about the existence of the law against domestic violence that was passed in 2010; they did not possess copies of the legislation.
“Our research has revealed that some judges and magistrates do not have access to this law while others do not care and they take such cases to be women issues,” Arach who is the Supreme Court judge designate said.
The association distributed hard copies of the domestic violence act 2010 to judges, magistrates and police officers during a women judges training workshop at Protea hotel in Kampala.
The domestic violence act 2010 which was initially part of the controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill was passed to address rising cases of gender based violence amid pressure from civil society but has not yet served its purpose three years down the road.
“People are calling for the passing of the Marriage and Divorce Bill but it may not be implemented just like the domestic violence law. We as key players need to do something on implementation of these laws.” Arach said.
The training sought to enforce women’s rights and increase their access to justice through ensuring a holistic and adequate implementation of the domestic act and regulations.
Henrietta Wolayo, a high court judge designate said the association has received funding from the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) to sensitize judges and members of the public about the law.
“This is going to encourage the victims to report these cases and the judges will ensure that they are prosecuted in courts of law.” Wolayo said. She explained that the sensitization of communities will begin next month.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police Okoth-Ochola presented statistics showing 72 people were killed as a result of domestic violence between January and April 2013.
Statistics also showed that there were 2,461 victims and 1,339 cases of domestic violence reported by April.
There were 9,278 victims and 2,793 cases of domestic violence in 2012. Ochola said they plan to elevate the Child and Family Protection department of the police to a directorate to handle the rising cases decisively