KAMPALA: Government has been asked to increase funding to institutions responsible for fighting gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.
This was said during the dissemination of the gender-based violence laws and policy in Kampala on Thursday by the Programs coordinator at Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) Peter Eceru said that there is need to review the policies and challenges including issues of limited allocation of funds to institutions that are responsible and handling GBV in the country.
He also noted that the government should ensure that there are mechanisms for rehabilitating survivors of gender-based violence to ensure that they get back on their feet.
“Government has not invested money in the establishment of gender-based violence management centers across the country. Of the twenty or twenty one gender-based violence centers that we have, almost all are managed by civil society organisations (CSOs). It is an area that the government needs to invest in and ensure that in terms of survivors we are able to provide them with a whole service including provision of legal service, psycho-social support and also the material support that they need to recover from gender-based violence including re-settlement after their stay in the centers,” he noted.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is an everyday threat for Ugandan women and girls. National demographic data from 2020 reveal that 56% of married women aged 15-49 reported having suffered physical and/or sexual violence by a husband (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2021). More than one in three women (36%) had experienced sexual violence, most often from a partner; 28% reported victimisation by sexual violence in the past year. Child sexual abuse is also pervasive, with 59% of women reporting sexual abuse in childhood. National data also show that 33% of girls below the age of 15 years were forced at first sex. Among women who said they had experienced GBV, only a minority reported it to police.
Uganda Police Force (2016-2021) crime reports document 272,737 GBV cases between 2016 and 2021, including 2,278 homicides attributed to intimate partners. Domestic violence cases account for 33% of the female homicide caseload. Community policing programmes and public awareness campaigns do not appear to have reduced the number of GBV cases over the six-year period.
Uganda has stated its commitment to ending GBV as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 5 (UN, 2022) and integrated its targets into its National Development Plan (Republic of Uganda, 2020; Office of the Prime Minister, 2020). Laws and policies that target GBV include the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (2010), the Domestic Violence Act (2010), the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (2009), the Uganda Gender Policy (2007), and the National Policy on Elimination of Gender Based Violence in Uganda (2016).
The government and partners have put in place mechanisms to improve the reporting and handling of GBV crimes, including Uganda Police Force (2021b) units and training devoted to child and family protection and sexual offences.
This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2022) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions of gender- based violence. (For related findings on gender equality, see Ssevume, Faiaz, Rao, & Raj, 2023).
Survey findings show that GBV ranks at the top of Ugandans’ priorities among women’s-rights issues that need government and societal attention. Most citizens reject a husband’s use of physical force to discipline his wife, but half report that violence against women and girls is a common occurrence in their community. And while they are confident that the police take GBV cases seriously, a majority think that women reporting violence will be criticised and that domestic violence is a private matter to be handled within the family.