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Tuesday,July 07,2020 07:22 AM

Homes turn into death chambers for women

By Jeff Andrew Lule

Added 10th November 2019 12:24 PM

The annual Police Crime and Traffic report showed a rise in the GBV cases from 13,132 in 2016 to 15,325 in 2017.

Homes turn into death chambers for women

Several studies about domestic violence; show that a big number of women suffer in silence n(File photo)

The annual Police Crime and Traffic report showed a rise in the GBV cases from 13,132 in 2016 to 15,325 in 2017.

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

Naturally; any woman's dream is to get a man of her choice to start a relationship and have an independent home.

This comes with a lot of expectations like the respect of a married couple in our communities. However, in these homes, both partners always expect freedom, happiness and development.

On the contrary; these homes are now turning into torture chambers for women oftentimes leading to death.

Many mothers suffer in silence at the hands of their partners but endure all forms of abuses to protect the image of their families.

However, in the end, many lose their lives, like Evalyline Nabaasa.

Nabaasa 35, a resident of Kakatsi cell in Ibanda district was murdered heartlessly by her partner, George Bishamuko 50.

He (Bishamuko) cut off Nabaasa's head with a machete, following a bitter disagreement.

But this was not the first time the two were engaged in a fight, a reason, perhaps why other neighbours did not care.

Residents attacked Bishamuko but he was saved by police though he later died while being rushed to hospital by Police.

Another woman was heartlessly murdered in the same way in Lukole Sub County, Agago district.

Beatrice Akoko, 22, was battered by her husband leading to her death, after a disagreement in the presence of their neighbours.

It is alleged that the man who is still on the run, kicked his wife several times in her abdomen leading to her unconsciousness.

On realizing, she was unconscious, he took off and his whereabouts remain unknown to date.

The woman died on the way to hospital leaving her two months old pair of twins motherless.

Residents say the man used to beat his wife nearly on a daily basis, but nobody bothered, thus leading to the woman's death.

Cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Violence against Women Girl (VAWG) remain a big challenge globally with women being the most affected. 

Several studies about domestic violence; show that a big number of women suffer in silence and never report, because of various reasons.

 

Global report

According to the recent global study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) titled; "Gender-related killing of women and girls" homes are the most dangerous places for women. 

The 2017 report released last year, shows that more than half of female murder victims in the same year (2017) were murdered by their spouses or family members.

It indicates that of the 87,000 recorded female homicides that year; 50,000, (58percent) were committed by the victims' intimate partners or family members.

The study indicates that six women are killed every hour, by people they know.

The report was released in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The day is marked annually, to sensitize people globally on ending GBV and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWGS).

Though men are also victims of GBV, women remain most vulnerable due to gender inequality.

The report illustrates that though the majority of intentional homicide victims are male, women comprise 82% of intimate partner murders; with majority cases corresponding with domestic violence cases.

Globally; Africa records the highest rate on intimate partner or family murders at 3.1 murders per 100,000 women, followed by the United States of America at 1.6 murder and 0.9 murders elsewhere.

Perpetrators and causes

The study shows that most perpetrators of intimate partner killings always have a low social-economic background and older than victims (15 years and above), disproportionately poor, young and members of minority ethnic groups (often with a history of violence and substance use) and are conservative.

Others are always possessive and jealous with fear of abandonment by their partners, while women perpetrators act as a result of extended periods of suffering physical violence from their spouses.

The various forms of violence committed by male partners include; physical violence (slaps, punches, kicks, assault with weapons and ultimately, homicide).

 

Poor reporting of cases

The report indicates that violence against women is widely unreported to the relevant authorities.

"Many women fear to report cases due to fear of reprisals, economic and psychological dependency and anticipation that police might not take the charged seriously," report notes.

Many women, especially in Africa; fear embarrassment and stigma with a belief that reporting is pointless; thinking that gender-related violence is a normal part of life that women should bear.

The report shows that married women and those in urban centres report better than those in rural areas. This is attributed possibly to better access to socio, legal and health services in the urban centres.

The report calls for early interventions to create awareness among the youth to understand the problem and report forced sex, verbal and emotional abuse, and physical violence.

Other recommendations include; multi-agency efforts to put up programs to end the vice establish free telephone services for easy reporting, create special units and expertise in police, and training of justice officials in charge of investigations and prosecution.

Need to fight in solidarity

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP,) Rosa Malango says VAWGs has a negative impact on the family and community life, thus a need to stand in unity to eradicate the phenomenon.

Last year Malango launched a new campaign; "Safe Ride#HearMe Campaign" to fight the vice in Kampala. She says men need to take the lead in the fight.

"VAW is not a fatality. This phenomenon can be stopped," she adds.

Malango says a third of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

She adds that many women and girls experience sexual harassment on the streets, in taxis, at workplaces and public places such as bars.

"The campaign aims to honour the victims and give them a voice. As men, policemen, boda boda riders, can also play a role. Boda boda riders, have a great potential in helping protect women and girls from violence," she says.

She notes that everyone has a duty to report cases of sexual harassment and any forms of VAWGS or encourage survivors to report such cases.

She also says police can assist the victims of violence, to end the culture of silencing.

She says statistics show that 56% of women aged 15 to 49 in Uganda have been victims of violence since they were 15 years.

She calls on all men to be champions of gender equality, by reporting case of sexual harassment ‘when they witness them'.

The executive director, Uganda Women's Network (UWONET), Ritah Aciro says violence is still a big problem in the country as a result of the patriarch setting, where some men still look at women as their property in some communities.

She notes that despite the economic and social change in the country, some cultural and religious beliefs that disadvantage women, cloud peoples' perception of right and wrong.

She notes that there is a need to strengthen male involvement as agents of change to prevent and respond to GBV.

"This will help change the attitude of men towards women. If women and men start sitting together to plan for their needs and resources they have; it can easily address the problem of GBV," she notes.

Aciro stresses that a recently implemented joint programme between the Government and the Irish Aid to address the GBV in Busoga from 2010-2018, indicates that poverty is the biggest cause of GBV in homes.

The study was implemented by the ministry of gender, labour and social development, UWONET, Inter-religious Council of Uganda, (IRCU), Centre for Domestic Violence Development (CEDOVIP) and Uganda Episcopal Conference together with the local government.

The study shows that 48% of women and 41% of men believe that a husband has a right to slap his wife if he is angry.

"This indicates that some people still believe that wife-beating is justified in certain circumstances which are wrong," Aciro adds.

The study also realized that where women and men are both involved in decision making and agree on how to handle issues like how to spend their income in the family, there is likelihood to reduce quarrels and physical violence in homes.

Police units for GBV  

As part of the strategies to deal with the problem, the Uganda Police Force (UPF) has set up special units where cases can be reported and handled expeditiously.

The deputy police chief, Maj Gen. Stephen Sabiiti Muzeyi says the units are set up at every police station across the country.

The units are manned by highly trained personnel who record and investigate the reported cases.

It is a specialized unit with the operational autonomy to expedite cases.

"This unit comes with trained personnel to manage the cases as well as offer preventive, promotional and rehabilitative services in all the districts countrywide," he explains.

The annual Police Crime and Traffic report showed a rise in the GBV cases from 13,132 in 2016 to 15,325 in 2017.

A total of 361 deaths through domestic violence were recorded in 2017 compared to 401 cases in 2016 with a 9.9% decrease in the districts of Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Mbarara, Rakai, Kagadi, Ntungamo, Sheema and Kyegegwa.

However, Muzeyi says there is still need to sensitize communities and survivors on the importance of immediate reporting of the crime.

"We are committed to breaking the silence to increase awareness on the fight against VAWGS and GBV. We have also strengthened police capacity in preventing and responding to GBV and child abuse by the criminal justice system," he adds.

Easter Akwango, the acting police commissioner Women Affairs says they intend to enhance the capacity of the women officers in the force not only to prevent the occurrence of GBV but also provide response services to those in need.

She says often, women do not have the power to negotiate or are afraid to lose their source of income and are increasingly reluctant to denounce acts of violence.

Last year, the Judiciary also set up special court sessions at the High Court Criminal Division in Kampala and high court circuits in Kampala, Moroto, Soroti, Masaka, Mukono, Gulu, Bushenyi and Mbale to expeditiously hear and dispose of at least of 1,000 sexual and GBV cases of which 60% were sexual and domestic  violence cases.

The executive director CEDOVIP, Tina Musuya says there is still gender inequality where women remain undermined.

"It is assumed that when bride price is paid in many communities; a woman is part of the property. That means she does not have equal rights in a home which comes with many challenges leading to GBV," she notes.

She says many women are still experiencing intimate partner violence in homes in silence.

"Some are prohibited to work and those who work; their money is taken away or their partners will refuse to provide," she explains.

Solome Nakaweesi, women rights activist, says there is need for a holistic approach with all stakeholders especially religious leaders, local council members and cultural leaders.   

The 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey shows that up to 22% of women aged 15 to 49 in the country had experienced some form of sexual violence. The report also revealed that annually, 13% of women aged 15 to 49 report experiencing sexual violence.

Nakaweesi says more than half of Ugandan women have been abused at either home, school or at work.

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