Members of Parliament have urged government to strengthen local councils (LCs) and cultural leaders as key players in elimination of gender based violence. Legislators said that the two groups have in the past proven effective in handling disputes in communities than the Police which is currently the main ‘go to’ for GBV cases.
“I know Police is helping in the fight against GBV but it needs to be helped, I worked with local councils I know they can do much if well equipped, I wish we could strengthen them,” said Hon. Julius Ekudo (FDC, Gweri County).
Legislators argued that the custodians of law enforcement tend to get compromised by perpetrators of GBV who they often set free without trial.
“For those who have lived in some countries you know that you don’t just beat a woman and go free, but here if the man goes to Police and has money, he can compromise the prosecution, you find the woman losing battle both at LC level and at Police,” said Hon. Idah Nantaba (Ind. Kayunga Woman MP).
MPs made these remarks during orientation on GBV for three committees; Gender, Labour & Social Development, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities at Parliament, on Monday,5 December 2022.
The orientation was facilitated by a gender expert from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Dr. Jane Ekapu.
Legislators noted that both local leaders and cultural leaders have a better knowledge of their communities, and thus better placed to handle gender related violence timely.
According to the Children’s Act, 1989, local councils are mandated to protect the rights of children in their local areas, MPs were however concerned that the rampant GBV cases reported in Police Crime reports could be an indication of a weak local council system.
“Local government mandates that all LCs should be in charge of child and family protection, I don’t know whether LCs know their mandate, if they don’t know then they will let things be, we need target these people,” said Flavia Kabahenda, chairperson Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Busia Municipality MP, Hon. Geofrey Macho said the utilization of cultural leaders will restore sanity in families with restoration of traditional norms. He gave an example of paternal Aunt who was pivotal in grooming of girls into women of acceptable ethical and moral values.
Dr. Ekapu said her ministry had registered commendable results working with local authorities and urged MPs to stir up the work being carried out by cultural intuitions.
“I know that Teso, Buganda and Tooro Kingdoms have an action plan on GBV, what MPs would do is to tap into those plans. To us you are the key people, you can make laws that enforce things that are currently not enforced,” said Ekapu,
She also tipped MPs to consider working closely with religious intuitions in their activism against GBV, singling out Church of Uganda as a key player in fighting female genital mutilation in Sebei sub region.
The orientation of MPs on GBV is part of the annual campaign on 16 days of activism against gender based violence in women and girls, that takes place between 25 November to 10 December every year.