Federation of Uganda Women Lawyers (FIDA) has called on government and security agencies to protect women in mineral deposit areas from gender based sexual violence.
According to FIDA, where there are mineral deposits, there is a tendency for investors to connive with the local administration to dodge paying taxes.
When that happens, fights break out between the community and the local administration, fueled by the investors. In the process, women and girls suffer through rape and other sexual related violence.
The call was made by the chief executive officer of FIDA Uganda, Irene Ovongi Odida, in a workshop to review the Kampala Declaration on Gender based violence at Imperial Royal Hotel recently.
Odida narrated a story where in one of the meetings organized by Action Aid International on Gender based violence, Women from Goma in DRC Congo reported of a massacre where majority of the women were sexually abused in the process.
The women said there were mineral deposits in Goma; an international company had secured a license to prospect. While prospecting, they had been granted a tax holiday by government.
At the end of the tax holiday, the investors had already found the minerals and were exporting but wanted to remain getting a taxi holiday.
The investor decided to connive with war lords in the area to attack those who were against another group in the community that wanted them to pay taxes, in the process, there was bloodshed and all sorts of sexual abuse on women and girls, narrated Odida.
“This reminds us of conflicts due to commercial interests and plundering of natural resources faced by our communities and the effect on women,” said Odida.
Odida called for joint efforts to address gender based violence and find ways of helping the victims especially in conflict and post conflict areas.
Some of the ways of helping victims of sexual gender based violence is through the establishment of standalone courts for such cases, ensure witness protection because those who commit such crimes are usually organized criminal gangs, support the victims to recover.
The workshop, organized by the Regional Training Facility (RTF) on Prevention of Sexual Violence, was aimed at assessing the impact of the Kampala Declaration on Prevention of Sexual Gender Based Violence. The declaration was signed by heads of state, in Kampala in December 2011, has about 10 resolutions which member states must comply with.
Nathan Byamukama, the executive director of RTF explained that first three resolutions are looking at prevention of sexual violence, another sector is about fighting impunity and the third is about supporting victims of sexual violence.
Other resolutions call for increased funding to institutions that deal with victims of violence on a daily basis, establishment of a training facility for the army, police, judiciary and other people who interface with SGB victim, so as to learn and understand how to deal with victim support.
So far, a training facility which is the RTF has been created to equip officers who interface with victims of how to handle them.
Byamukama added that they are also pushing for the creation of special courts to handle cases of gender based violence. It is estimated that 65% prisoners on remand have committed sexual violence related crimes.