Wednesday,September 30,2020 05:46 AM

Is domestic violence a part of life?

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th September 2007 03:00 AM

IT is a few hours into the night. A young girl’s wail pierces through the dark, silent and scary night.

IT is a few hours into the night. A young girl’s wail pierces through the dark, silent and scary night.

By Conan Businge

IT is a few hours into the night. A young girl’s wail pierces through the dark, silent and scary night.

On her return from the market, the 10-year-old girl has just stumbled into a pool of blood, oozing out of her mother, who was hacked a few minutes back, by her own father.

Samson Musana of Nakibora in Mukono, hid near a path, pounced on his wife Nayiga and hacked her to death. He accused her of selling his bicycle and mattress. This is just one of the thousands of domestic violence cases, where women suffer physical, sexual and psychological coercion by their intimate partner.

According to the Human Rights Watch, domestic violence is a global phenomenon and one of the leading causes of female injuries in almost every country in the world.

For many women in Uganda, as in many other countries, domestic violence is not an isolated and abnormal act, but arises from and forms part of the context of their lives.

According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2006, more than two thirds of Ugandan women experience violence from their partners. Sixty eight percent had been harassed or beaten by their partners during the 12 months preceding the survey. Methods used included beating, pushing, dragging, forced sex, arm twisting, threatening, insulting and choking. Rural women suffered more violence than urban women. Likewise, uneducated women suffered more than their educated colleagues.

The survey also shows that seven in 10 women agreed that it was justified for women to be beaten.

This indicates that women in Uganda generally accept violence as part of male-female relationships, which is not surprising because traditional norms teach women to accept, tolerate and even rationalise battery.

The most accepted reasons for wife beating, according to the report, are neglecting children (56%) and going out without informing the husband (52%). Four in 10 women think that arguing with a husband justifies wife beating and 31% and 23% of women, respectively, feel that denying a husband sex and burning food are justifications for wife beating.

Acceptance of wife beating is generally lower among women in urban areas, those residing in Kampala, those in highest wealth bracket, women with higher or secondary education and women who are employed.

On the other hand, women in rural areas, those living in eastern and West Nile regions, less educated and the employed but with no cash payment are more likely to agree to being beaten.

Why it persists
Dr. Lydia Mungherera, the founder of Mama’s Club, says as long as women are poor and uneducated, it will be hard for them to resist domestic violence.

She says: “If girls are not educated, there is likely to be more domestic violence, which is dangerous to our community.”

Most women are dependent on the spouse for economic well being. Having children to take care of, should she leave the marriage, it will increase the financial burden and make it difficult for her to resort to divorce.

Dependency means that women have fewer options and few resources to help them.

Wife harassment is also associated with both alcohol consumption, according to a study conducted in Rakai district by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They surveyed 5,109 women and 3,881 men living in Rakai.

They were asked detailed questions about their experiences and attitudes to domestic violence and sexual relationships.

A separate study conducted by the Ministry of Health in northern Uganda last month established that drunkenness accounted for more than 80% of domestic violence.

Other causes were disagreements over money, unfaithfulness, leaving children to cry and denying him sex.

A respondent in Arute camp, Lira, said: “My husband sometimes insults me for not working hard enough to look for food for the family. At one time he lamented, ‘I’m tired of feeding you and your children’. This usually happens when he returns from my co-wife’s place, who at times gives him money, which I cannot afford.”

Another one said: “He likes sex … when I do not feel like, he forces me. He reasons that I might be seeing someone else…”

However, most of the affected women did not report cases of domestic violence. Most of them feared reprisals from their men. Others feared embarrassment. Other reasons for not reporting were poverty, ignorance of the law and not knowing where to report.

Women activists say domestic violence increases women’s vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Hope Turyasingura of the Centre for Domestic Violence prevention (CEDOVIP) says: “If a man finds out that he is HIV-positive, he usually rapes his wife, saying he does not want to die and leave her for other men.”

According to the UDHS, the extent of control women have over when and with whom they have sex, has important implications for outcomes such as transmission of HIV and other STDs. To measure the women’s beliefs about sexual empowerment, female respondents were asked whether it is justifiable for a wife to deny her husband sex when she knows her husband has an STD or has sex with other women.

Alternatively she may be tired or not in the mood.

Six in 10 women agree that all the above reasons are justifiable for denying their husbands sex. However, 8% disagree.

This implies that women believe they should have the ability to negotiate whether or not to have sex with their partners.

Way forward
Tina Musuya, co-coordinator of the CEDOVIP, says more attention should be drawn to domestic violence since it has enormous health, economic and social costs on the nation.

The Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Uganda) advocates stronger laws against domestic violence, to harshly punish men who batter their wives.

“There is so much impunity. This is right from the family to the government organs and that is why there is still a big number of women being domestically violated,” says FIDA’s Hilda Akabwai.

Akabwai says the Government has in the past not taken people’s concerns seriously regarding domestic violence.

“I think the government has now come to a point of realising that this is a growing evil.” She says there are a number of laws in offing like the Domestic Relations Bill.

The Bill is expected to give women and girls more power in matters relating to marriage, divorce and ownership of property.

It will also spell the punishment for the perpetrators.

However, this draft law has been on the shelf for more than 10 years. Gulu Woman MP Betty Ochan Oyo says negative cultural practices that subdue women, such as kneeling for men, should be outlawed. She noted that domestic violence is perpetuated by negative traditions that demean women such as wife inheritance, paying bride price, female genital mutilation, marital rape and sexual cleansing. “For us to make good laws that enforce the rights of women, we need to revisit and address the negative traditional practices against women.”

Effects of
domestic violence

On women
lBattered women lose their jobs because of absenteeism due to illness as a result of the violence.
lWomen are abandoned by their church when separating from abusers, since some religious doctrines prohibit separation or divorce, regardless of the severity of abuse.
lSome women have had to forgo financial security during divorce proceedings to avoid further abuse.

On children
-Those boys, who witness parents fighting, are more likely to inflict severe violence as adults.
-Anytime a mother is abused by her partner, the children are also affected in both overt and subtle ways. What hurts the mother hurts the children.
-Children get hurt when they see their parents being yelled at, pushed, or hit. They may feel confusion, stress, fear, shame, or think that they caused the problem.
-They may exhibit emotional problems, cry excessively, or be withdrawn or shy.
-Children who grow up in violent homes have much higher risks of becoming drug or alcohol abusers or being involved in abusive relationships.

Legal caution
-Domestic violence is a criminal offence, report it
-Show the police any injuries
-Keep medical records and take pictures of injuries

On July 6 , Henry Adebo, 36, of Kisenyi zone in Luzira, allegedly stabbed his wife Pingoloa Amayo, 26, to death. This followed numerous months of quarrelling. That night Adebo returned home drunk. He said he no longer loved his wife and that she had turned into a burden. He was arrested and charged with murder.

Alamanzani Kulaba of Kamuli district, on August 30 allegedly hacked his wife with an axe and fled his home. Jessica Naikazi was murdered after denying Alamanzani sex.

On August 1, 2007 a UPDF soldier attached to Bombo army barracks was arrested on allegations of strangling his wife to death, after a disagreement with her. Pte. William Kakuru was accused of murdering Zaitun Lempaco at his home in Luweero.

The Police in Nakasongola in July recorded a case of a man who attacked his wife at her parents’ home and killed her. Ben Nsamba stabbed his wife, the mother of his two children, who had divorced him. He later cut his own throat and was taken to the mortuary, after being presumed dead. He escaped from the mortuary.

In July, Christopher Kweriti allegedly stabbed his girlfriend in the stomach and killed her. Marion Nandase was stabbed from Iganga district. He was accusing her of cheating him.

Sande Mugagga Nsereko of Mpigi was arrested for allegedly raping and killing Angela Baliwijirira, 47 for fear that she would testify against him. The incident took place at Buyiga Island in Kammengo.

A man murdered his ex-wife who had divorced him a year back, on her return to celebrate Christmas with her parents last year. Ssalongo Ssebuwufu, 19, murdered his wife Dorah Namanda in Kigasa, Masaka on Christmas day. He followed her to a cinema and cut her throat as she was returning home at night.

In December 2006, Neri Luyombya, 25, of Lubaga in Kampala allegedly hit his wife with a hoe on the head and killed her. Luyombya confessed that he murdered his wife Agnes Birungi after a disagreement at home. He was also accusing her of adultery and returning home in the company of men a night before the murder.

Compiled by: Conan Businge

Is domestic violence a part of life?

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