KAMPALA: Religious and cultural leaders in the Rwenzori region have committed to working together to end all acts of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The leaders say they are concerned about the increasing GBV cases in the region that have been compounded by the COVID-19 effects.
In Kasese, more than 6,000 girls under the age of 19 went for their first antenatal in various health facilities, and over 200 cases of violence against children were reported to police in 2021.
The Reverend Alice Nabirwe from the South Rwenzori Diocese promised to initiate programs to revitalize family life and values within the church teachings. She says that many couples, especially men, have not appreciated the value of courtship and marriage counseling.
Pastor Ezekiel Mutyanga, the Bishop of the SDA Church in the Rwenzori Region, says that they will integrate messages against GBV into their daily religious sermons. He said they recognize that many children are victims of violence perpetrated by their own parents and relatives.
Grace Kimekeke, the President of Mothers Union Kasese Diocese, said they have been trying to counsel conflicting couples and offer psychosocial support to abused young children.
She says that they have collectively agreed to set up systems to provide immediate protection and care for victims of GBV but also open partnerships with all other stakeholders advocating for the end of the vice.
Sheikh Nasib Musenene, working with the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council-UMSC, attributes the conservative negative cultural practices to the increasing cases of GBV in most rural communities. Musenene says that he is pleased that the cultural leaders have opted to be at the front in this fight against negative practices.
The Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu-OBR Prime Minister, Joseph Kule Muranga, says that they have amended the OBR constitution and discarded all negative cultural practices. The amended constitution now advocates for equality between men and women and protects young children against harmful practices.
Records show that women in Uganda aged 15–49 years have experienced violence, and more than 1 in every 5 women aged 15–24 have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.
Estimates for violence against children also show that violence against young girls is high, at more than 59% for young females prior to 19 years.