56% of ever-married women and 44% of ever-married men have experienced spousal violence whether physical, sexual, or emotional, data from the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) 2016 indicates.
National statistics also show that over half of women 15-49 years have experienced violence and more than 1 in every 5 young girls 15-24 years have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.
According to the UDHS (2016), 51% of women and 49% of men neither sought help nor told anyone about the violence. Thus denying themselves the opportunity to access available support services.
These worrying statistics were shared by Hon Mutuuzo Peace the Minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs while announcing the launch of sixteen (16) Days of Activism Campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) 2021 set for this Friday, 26th November 2021.
Hon Mutuuzo told the media in Kampala this morning, that the National launch for this year will take place at Amagi Primary school, in Kamdini Sub County, Oyam District on 26th November 2021 under the theme; “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women and Girls Now!”
The campaign was first started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and has since grown into a global campaign.
This year 2021, marks the 30th Anniversary of the Campaign. The Campaign begins on the 25th of November of each year which is the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women and runs up to 10th December, which is the International Human Rights Day.
Estimates for violence against children show that violence against the girl child is very high. Child marriage is still high in Uganda; 34% of girls 20-24 years were married or in union before age 18 and 7% were married before the age 15.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) also remains widespread in Kapchorwa and Moroto where 13% and 52% of girls and women aged 15-49 respectively have been subjected to FGM.
The Uganda Police Crime Report 2020 also indicated over 14,000 cases of defilement were reported in 2020, 44% of boys and 59% of girls aged 13-17 had experienced physical violence while 20% of children aged 1317 had experienced emotional abuse.
Violence against women and children deprives them of their right to protection, safety and security, dignity and represents a substantial obstacle to equality between women and men.
The COVID 19 pandemic and the associated control measures, which created a lot of anxiety, stress, and hardships to most family members and communities escalated cases of GBV.
The pandemic has exacerbated all the risk factors for VAWG, including unemployment and poverty, and reinforced many of the root causes such as gender stereotypes and harmful social norms.
“We have witnessed the resurgence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among practicing communities in Sebei and Karamoja Regions. The Uganda COVID-19 Rapid Gender Assessment of 2020 indicates that 13 percent of girls and 52 percent of women aged in the category of 15–49 years have been subjected to FGM” the Mi.
Government efforts to address GBV in Uganda
Notwithstanding the high prevalence of GBV, the minister says Government has prioritized the prevention and response to GBV through interventions like:
- Ensuring a strong legal and policy framework with the National Policy on the Elimination of GBV in Uganda, 2016 as well as several laws including the Domestic Violence Act 2010, The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009; the Penal Code Act, Cap 120, the Prohibition of FGM Act 2010 and the Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations of 2012.
- Building capacity of Government agencies including Local Governments to design and mainstream interventions for prevention and response to GBV in Ministerial Plans and Programmes.
- The National GBV/VAC Multi-Sectoral COVID-19 Response Plan (2021-2024) has been developed as a framework to guide the national response and scale up the delivery of quality and comprehensive support services for survivors and victims of GBV.
- Scaled up interventions for male engagement and involvement in GBV prevention and response. The MGLSD’s National Male Engagement Strategy is being implemented and a simplified popular version has been developed to widen the use and adoption of measures to engage men and boys for the elimination of GBV at all levels.
- Support to women’s economic empowerment through the provision of credit to 180914 women across the country, promoting access to appropriate technology in enterprise development and skilling in enterprise management.
- The MGLSD has extended support for the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in practicing communities including cross-border FGM.
- The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is revising the Certificate of compliance framework to include a specific output and outcome indicators for GBV and Harmful Practices during the assessments.
- The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development in collaboration with Partners have established 18 GBV safe shelters in 18 local governments, which provide comprehensive services such as temporary shelters, legal aid and health, re-integration and resettlement of GBV survivors.
- The Ministry has established strong coordination mechanisms at national and local levels namely; GBV High Policy Dialogue, Medico-legal GBV Working Group, Violence against Women /Violence against Children Covid-19 Responsive Sub Committee. At local government, there are district GBV Coordination Committees that meet quarterly to deliberate on strategies to address GBV.
Planned activities to mark the 16 Days of Activism against GBV 2021
The minister says a series of activities are planned for this period to sensitize the public about the importance of the 16 Days of activism against GBV. These include;
- The national launch which will be held at Amaji P/S Kamdini Subcounty in Oyam District on Friday 26th November 2021. The event will be marked under the COVID-19 Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) hence the number of persons at the launch event will be limited.
- Inter-ministerial High level cross border dialogue to address FGM to take place from 24th- 25th November at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala.
- National Dialogue for religious, cultural and traditional leaders on ending to take place on 10th December in Kampala
- Knowledge fair to show case GBV publications and reports.
- Media campaigns on television, radio and social media
Minister Mutuuzo urged all Ugandans to participate in the activities organized by stakeholders across the country to raise awareness and be champions against GBV.