17 November 2023Tags: CEHURD, centres, sexual and gender-based violence, SGBV, Uganda
During a meeting organised by Generation G partner CEHURD, government officials announced the establishment of regional centres to aid victims of gender-based violence in Uganda. To understand why this effort is crucial in the fight against violence towards women in their country, we spoke to Miriam Kyomugisha and Peter Eceru from CEHURD. We discussed their views on the plans and the important things they’ll be watching out for.
Why is this announcement a significant step towards tackling gender-based violence in Uganda?
Having shelters is key in rehabilitating gender-based violence survivors. It also means that they are safe. As witnesses they will be protected instead of being reintroduced back into their communities. Usually when these victims are rejoin their communities without being rehabilitated, they don’t heal. In fact, in some instances, they are abused again and in worse circumstances they hurt others, either as a way of coping or revenge. So, the government intervening and establishing gender-based violence shelters is a positive step. Rehabilitation includes counselling, vocational training, teaching their rights etc. some even become advocates against gender-based violence.
What was your response to the announcement?
It was surprising because all the gender-based violence shelters in the country are being run by civil society organisations. This announcement however proves that our advocacy around the issue has had impact. It means the government has listened and has planned interventions. So we were pleasantly surprised and we are super charged to campaign even more vigorously so that it’s not lost in transit.
What is the existing backdrop of gender-based violence in Uganda?
More than 1 million women are exposed to sexual violence every year in Uganda.This high prevalence of gender-based violence in Uganda is largely a result of myths, practices and customs. These cultural practices are responsible for some of the worst forms of gender-based violence, such as female genital mutilation.
With advancement of technology, violence against women has recently taken new, more sophisticated forms. An increasing number of women are, for instance, reporting cyber-bullying and abuse through social media and smartphones. Addressing all forms of discrimination against women and girls remains a priority in Uganda and we therefore wanted to bring different people together to reignite the debate and look for solutions together.
“We see that there are numerous laws and policies in place but the number of gender-based violence cases either remain the same or are on the rise.”
Can you tell us more about the meeting with the government?
With the ‘Popularise sexual and gender-based violence meeting’ we wanted to share the findings on our study of the Ugandan and international gender-based violence laws, regulations and policies. The purpose was to address challenges that the successful implementation face and to make recommendations on how they can be improved.
We see that there are numerous laws and policies in place but the number of gender-based violence cases either remain the same or are on the rise. We hoped to hear from the representatives of the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, Members of Parliament, Police Force, young people, religious leaders, journalists, private sector and civil society organisations how they are dealing with gender-based violence. We wanted to identify their strengths and weaknesses hear about new developments in their different sectors.
“We will also keep the momentum up because one of the main causes of GBV is the negative cultural and religious norms and these can only change if we consistently speak up against them”
How will you hold the government to their new plans?
As part of the Generation G partnership, we will continue to advocate against GBV. We will also keep the momentum up because one of the main causes of GBV is the negative cultural and religious norms and these can only change if we consistently speak up against them. From the meeting, we also concluded that another root cause is poverty and as such, there’s need for economic empowerment especially for women.
In Uganda, we have a number of beautiful laws and policies that are not implemented and our worry is that this plan by our government might not be so different. Shelters demand significant resources, and we have doubts regarding the allocated budget. Consistently making ourselves heard can effectively apply pressure on the government to fulfill its promises to establish a central shelter for survivors of gender-based violence.
Read the national coverage in Ugandan newspaper New Vision.
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