Uganda Human Rights Commission spearheads interventions to curb Sexual Gender Based Violence in Uganda
Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) together with partners from government departments and civil society met on Wednesday 31st August 2016 to lay strategies to address the problem of sexual gender based violence in Uganda which they noted was on the rise especially in home settings, work places and schools. They were concerned that sexual gender based violence was suffocating women’s enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The half-day meeting held at Uganda Human Rights Commission head office in Kampala drew a total of seventeen participants from various organizations which included the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development; Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and CEDOVIP.
The meeting which had presentations made by various speakers including Ms. Alice Komuhangi Khauka who is the Head of Gender, Child and Sexual offences department at the DPP; Ms. Namuddu Hadijja from the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development and Ms Diana Kagere form CEDOVIP underpinned the need for stakeholders to promote co-operation in the field of sexual gender based violence nationally, regionally and internationally.
Ms Komuhangi outlined some of the challenges of prosecuting sexual gender based violence in Uganda which included lack of witness protection legislation; the limited number of prosecutors; inadequate forensic and scientific facilities for gathering and analyzing evidence and limited cooperation from the victims and witnesses among others. The meeting therefore emphasized the urgent need for Uganda to pass the Witness Protection legislation and networking with non-governmental organizations that offer psychosocial support services in order to address some of the challenges. Participants also called for strategies to facilitate victims of sexual gender based violence to access courts of law and other redress mechanisms offered by other independent bodies or institutions.
In outlining some of the effects of sexual gender based violence on families, Ms. Namuddu from the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development pointed out the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STDs among the married and unmarried persons; increased vulnerability of women, leading to their impoverishment; vulnerability of children leading to cases of mental and behavioural disorders and undermining of family stability among other problems.
Other social consequences of sexual gender based violence in Uganda highlighted by Ms Diana Kagere of CEDOVIP included the high incidence of school drop outs; insecurity in homes; sexual harassment at work as well as the increased economic burden in terms of health services required and community policing services to address the rising incidence of violence in homes. She particularly urged partners to design programs that focus on working with men in order to prevent and respond to sexual gender based violence effectively.
Speaking at the meeting, the Director of Monitoring and Inspections of UHRC Ms Patricia Nduru lauded the presenters for the insightful presentations on sexual gender based violence in Uganda. She pledged UHRC’s commitment to continuing to work closely with all the partners in this endeavor and called for joint interventions by drawing on the synergies available.