Under the project “Prevention and handling cases of sexual violence against girls and women in the rural area of Kisoro district and enforcement of women’s rights at the national level in Uganda,” ACFODE held networking meetings with stakeholders and social actors in the four operation Sub Counties of Busanza, Nyakabande, Nyarusiza and Kirundo. These ran from 17th to 21st November in the respective Sub Counties. This activity which aimed to increase ownership among stakeholders and beneficiaries through participatory planning attracted total of 145 participants (43 females and 102 males).
Among the activities conducted, ACFODE disseminated findings from a monitoring visit that was conducted in Kisoro from 20th to 23rd July 2014. The dissemination of these findings sparked off mixed reactions including highlighting several causes of sexual violence. Alcohol abuse among parents and youths along with drug abuse were raised as the leading causes of sexual violence in the communities, while tea growing was noted to result into increased school drop outs and child labour particularly in Kirundo Sub County. Furthermore, increased cases of sexual violence, in particular defilement and early marriages was attributed to lack of corporation from parents and some victims.
It was discovered that alcohol abuse was on the rise due to poor implementation of the bye-Laws in place. Shockingly, some community leaders, such as LC Chairpersons support alcohol consumption and were reported as the most drunkards, making it hard to implement the bye-laws against alcoholism.
It was further observed that youth, in Kirundo Sub County consume too much marijuana commonly known as ‘enjagga’ hence fuelling illegal acts. However, the police is trying its best to stop this vice by uprooting the marijuana plants and arresting the culprits. The only challenges comes when the culprits are taken to court, only to be released in a short while, devoid of being given the chance to rehabilitate. “In my area of operation, I uprooted some marijuana plants that had actually made a man run mad,” remarked Mr. Tweheho , a Police Officer from Busanza Sub County.
A tea plantation in Busanza Sub County.
As much as police and other law enforcers are trying their best in handling and referring cases of sexual violence, they are facing a lot of resistance and uncooperativeness from parents and some victims who hide evidence. This is also a major reason as to why some cases received at Sub county level never get to Kisoro district police station. “I received a case of defilement from Mutolere and took the responsibility to catch the offender. However, the mother to the victim became very furious with me. She took the girl to an unknown place and when we were approached by the police, we could not give any answer regarding the whereabouts of the girl,” noted Mr. Geoffrey Mucunguzi, Deputy Residential District Commissioner.
During a meeting with district officials it was noted that parents do not report cases of sexual violence because they want to protect their image. “How will they see me when they find out that my daughter was defiled?”
Some uncommitted leaders also play part in hindering justice for victims, “If I follow up this case, where will I benefit from?” In other cases, women don’t report cases of domestic violence due to fear that when their husbands are released, they will harm them. This is also a challenge when it comes to girls reporting cases of sexual violence, as they fear to be endangered by the perpetrators.
Mr. Geoffrey Mucunguzi during the meeting with the district officials
Other causes of sexual and gender based violence in the region include; ignorance among some parents, dependency syndrome among couples, women’s empowerment and women coming back home late from their work places.
From the networking meetings, a number of strategies to address the raised issues were generated. These included; identifying places where marijuana is grown and destroyed, sensitizing communities through use of movies and drama shows on the negative effects of substance abuse, putting new leaders into authority, counseling and guiding couples faced with domestic violence, and promoting neighborhood watch through clan groups locally known as “miryango.”
In addition, sub county leaders and stakeholders in Nyarusiza committed to establish and adopt bye-laws against sexual and alcohol abuse effective the 24th of November 2014. A directive was equally passed that any pupil caught in tea plantations during school hours would be arrested together with their parents. The district officials also committed to work hand in hand with ACFODE to eliminate sexual violence from Kisoro, whilst observing: “As stakeholders, we shall work together and promote community policing; so as to eliminate this vice,” noted participants.
Gender and Economic Policy Department