By Cecilia Okoth
A combination of factors among them a lax legal system, lenient judgments and erosion of cultural values are responsible for the increase in sexual violence in the country, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen. Kale Kayihura has said.
Speaking at the launch of a publication done by Action for Development (ACODE) dubbed “Power of the pen in breaking the silence on sexual violence”, Kayihura blamed the commonly Law principles that Uganda inherited from her colonial masters which have made it possible for the three factors to connive and fuel the vice in the country.
Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura holding a book, Power of the pen, during the launch of Action for Development (ACFODE) publication at Fairway Hotel. Photo/Mary Kansiime
“We are operating a system we inherited that is the common law system. The problem is the presumption of innocence. Before the law, these sexual violence perpetrators are innocent. The law favors criminals and the system is queued in favour of them,” Kayihura said at Fairway hotel Thursday.
“Sometimes when the suspects are released, you say the police was bribed but we are simply constrained by the law,” he said and called for a radical amendment to crucial aspects of the law touching on sexual violence.
He said there was need to amend the Penal Code Act (PCA) for certain kind of offenses like rape, murder, sexual violence.
“We do not need another law to tackle sexual violence. Let these criminals remain behind bars,” he said, adding that there was need to strengthen institutions in the justice, law and order sector (JLOS).
According to the annual police crime report 2013, there was an increase in sexual violence in the country.
According to the report a total of 250 cases of Indecent Assault, 32 cases of Incest and 52 cases of unnatural offences were investigated as compared to 298 cases of Indecent Assault, 34 cases of Incest and 71 cases of unnatural offences investigated in 2012 respectively.
Gen. Kale Kayihura and Chairperson of ACFODE, Gertrude Ssekabira, during the launch of the book . Photo/Mary Kansiime
Defilement continues to lead in Sex Related Crimes in 2012 and 2013. A total of 9,598 cases were investigated in 2013 compared to 8,076 cases in 2012, thus giving an increase of 15.8 percent while 1,042 cases of rape were investigated compared to 530 cases in 2012, up by 49 percent.
“Sexual violence should be looked at in this context. Let us not simply simplify it. Congo and Rwanda are using sexual violence as a weapon of war. It does not console us but that is the reality we are in,” he said.
Kayihura also decried the break down in the social cultural institutions which, he said, partly explain the spike in sexual violence in the country.
“Parents no longer have control over their children. When I was young, I respected my parents. We don’t see that today anymore,” he noted.
“That is why the government resurrected the cultural institutions to bring back sanity,” he said.
He recalled how at one time he was accosted by 10 parents, asking for him to take their children on account that they had become uncontrollable.
Because of the breakdown, children, he said, have become uncontrollable and militant. He recalled an incident in which a son killed the father after he (the father) blocked him from selling a plot of land.
“Children have become terrorists in their homes. They gang up with their mothers to kill their fathers over property,” he said adding that the police are reorganizing its criminal intelligence to tackle this matter.
He noted that sexual violence is fed on things like drug abuse. “A lot of indiscipline among youth is as a result of drug abuse. The current law is laughable,” he said.
Beata Chelimo, the head of the Directorate of Women Affairs confirmed that most crimes are driven by drug abuse.
“People these days brew malwa (a local beer) with marijuana. There is information to that effect that people add marijuana to make malwa more potent. People take small quantities and appear extremely high and dangerous,” she said.
Investigations, she said, were ongoing with the view of arresting the perpetrators. Chelimo however said upon conviction in court, the first offender of drug abuse is a sum of Sh1m or six months in prison or both which she said is too low and not deterrent enough.
“So what is sh1m for a person dealing in cocaine when he gets sh100m for half a kg of cocaine?” Chelimo wondered, concluding that the law was indeed laughable.
Kayihura also revealed that drug traffickers get cocaine and adulterate it with ARVs which “technically is poison” in a bid to carry larger quantities with out being suspected.
Regina Bafaki ACFODE’s Executive Director said the power of the pen in breaking silence on sexual violence publication is about telling or speaking up as a tool to empower the survivors of sexual violence.