By Diana Kagere Mugerwa
Every day, everywhere, Uganda is overwhelmed with widespread gender-based violence (GBV) as seen in the rampant cases of rape, defilement, and domestic violence reported in the media and at the Police stations; despite the fact that many more of such cases go unreported.
Just like the Government, human rights activists, parents, healthcare workers; men and women who care about safety of women, girls, boys and men are perturbed by the impunity that surrounds gender based violence.
In response to the rampant GBV cases, the Government has put in place measures such as the Domestic Violence Act, Human Anti-Trafficking Acts. But all these laws have widely remained on paper because of lack of resources to disseminate them to the users and law enforcers.
Recently at the launch of the annual global 16 days of Activism against Violence against Women at Grand Imperial Hotel, Mary Karoro Okurut, the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development could not hide her disgust against GBV.
This violence is rising every day. For instance, sex related cases totaled 7,690 in 2011, compared to 7,564 cases in 2010 in Uganda according to the Annual Crime report, 2011. 59% of women experience violence, 16% pregnant women experience violence while 28% have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime at the hands of intimate partners according to the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health survey.
The Government spends 77 b on responding to domestic violence alone. This kind of money could do to improve the lives of Ugandans if domestic violence was prevented and the money is put to improving service delivery.
The Uganda Vision 2040 emphasises that addressing violence against women is key to achieving development outcomes for individuals, families, communities and Uganda.
We have seen concerted efforts by CSOs, media, Government departments, religious institutions, the Police and grass root communities to prevent and respond to GBV cases in the country but their efforts need to be concretised by government actions.
However, the absence of a national GBV policy continues to be a barrier in addressing GBV in Uganda because without it, the government cannot allocate funding towards implementing laws to respond to GBV nor directly fund GBV prevention programmes.
It is for the above reasons that Minister Karoro is upfront about having the GBV policy passed as soon as possible, so that GBV is actually outlawed in everyday lives of all Ugandans.
Karoror should convince Cabinet to prioritise approval of the GBV policy.
The writter is a Programme officer – CEDOVIP.