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Activists urge the sexually abused to speak up

By Vivian Agaba

Added 8th March 2018 03:19 PM

Sexual violence against girls is widely spread with 77.7% of primary school going children and 82% of those in secondary school experiencing sexual abuse while at school.

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Sexual violence against girls is widely spread with 77.7% of primary school going children and 82% of those in secondary school experiencing sexual abuse while at school.

PIC: Left-right: The chairperson Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Flavia Kalule, the executive director Rita Achiro Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), the program director FIDA Uganda Lillian Adriiko Byaruhanga, woman activist Miria Matembe and chief executive officer Uganda Law Society Joyce Nalunga holding each other’s hands in solidarity with the women who were recently killed in areas of Entebbe and Nansana. This was during a press conference on the state of women’s rights at FIDA offices in Kampala on Thursday, March 08, 2018. (Credit: Shamim Saad)

SEXUAL ABUSE


KAMPALA - As Uganda joins the rest of the World to Commemorate International Women’s Day, women rights organisations have advised girls in higher institutions of learning not to suffer in silence when they are sexually abused.

The women activists called on female students who have been sexually abused in higher institutions of learning to come out and report so that the vice does not become a norm.

Speaking during a press briefing held at FIDA offices in Bukoto, Kampala on Thursday, the chairperson, Young African Leaders Initiative, Flavia Kalule Nabagabe, while referring to a recent report on sexual harassment at Makerere University, said lecturers sexually exploit female students through uncivil punishments such as confiscating their mobile phones.
 
“We want more women to speak up against this vice so that duty bearers come up with lasting solutions. If girls who have been sexually abused fear to come out, then the culprits will continue to commit these crimes and more girls will be affected,” Kalule said.
 
Sexual violence against girls is widely spread with 77.7% of primary school going children and 82% of those in secondary school experiencing sexual abuse while at school.

The forms of sexual abuse include defilement, being spoken to in a sexual way, receiving marriage proposals, being fondled/ touched in a sexual manner and being made to watch sexual scenes (pornography).
According to the activists, 67% of students are sexually abused by a male teacher.

Makerere University has been in the media for such scenarios where some lecturers have been exposed for engaging in sexual scandals with female students in exchange for marks.

During the university’s 68th graduation ceremony early this year, the vice-chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, said he would not the tolerate ‘sex for marks’ vice under his tenure.

The executive director, Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), Ritah Aciro Lakers, said there are many harmful cultural practices Ugandan girls and women are still facing, including child marriages, physical violence, female genital mutilation, high rates of maternal and mortality rates, among others.

Aciro therefore, called on different actors and government to work together to intensify measures in fighting these practices.

Prevalence of child marriages in Uganda stand at 40%, with the highest being in northern Uganda (59%), followed by western region(58%), eastern region(52%), east central(52%) and West Nile(50%), among others.

On the other hand, 56% of women aged 15 to 29 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and 28% of women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.


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