According to the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development (MGLSD), Gender based Violence (GBV) undermines the health, dignity, security, mental health and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains hidden in a culture of silence. This largely acceptable practice has far reaching costs including sexual and reproductive health consequences, such as forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. Gender Based Violence also leads to loss in productivity and business thus having effects on the household, society and the nation as a whole.
Ms Happy Ainomugisha, the project coordinator, addresses participants during the training.
Uganda has domesticated treaties on the rights of women and girls within the constitution which gives effect to the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act 2010 and the subsequent Gender Based Violence Policy and its Action Plan 2016. There are a number of laws on sexual violence, whose provisions are applied to address the injustices arising out of sexual violence as well as redress for the affected party.
However, there are still gaps in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, the Gender Based Violence policy and its action plan. Consequently, ACFODE with financial support from TROCAIRE embarked on implementation of a Gender Based Violence (GBV) program aiming at advocating for effective implementation of GBV laws and policies in Uganda. Part of the project interventions include equipping sub county women leaders with knowledge and skills in understanding Domestic Violence Act, the National Gender Based Violence policy and its Action plan.
Participants engage in discussions during the training.
So far 60 women leaders from the sub counties of Bululu and Otuboi including; chairpersons from Local councils, women councils and representatives of women groups have been trained. The training focused on aiding participants’ understanding of the different provisions within the Act, stakeholders, their roles and responsibilities as mandated by the law. Through guided discussions, participants identified community structures engaged in eliminating Gender Based Violence in their communities. Some of these were; Local councils, Clan and Religious institutions, Police, Community Development officers as well as Community Activists. Through the same structures, there has been continuous sensitization of communities on the existence of the Domestic Violence Act, referral pathways as well as procedures for handling GBV cases.
The trainings have enabled participants to identify the gaps and strategies for effective implementation of the Domestic Violence Act in their communities. Some of the issues underpinned include; the knowledge gap among police officers and local council officials, Police form 3A charges, and medical examination fees charged on the survivors, poor coordination among the GBV actors and forced/early marriages among girls.
Group photo of participants after the training session in Kaberamido distirct.
“I would like to thank ACFODE for this great knowledge on understanding the Domestic Violence Act (2010), and the GBV policy. I have acquired knowledge on the key stakeholders in averting Gender Based Violence, their roles and responsibilities as stipulated in the Law. From now on, I will use my power as a leader to protect the rights of women and girls, and follow up reported cases,” confessed one participant.
At the end of the trainings, participants suggested a couple of key recommendations to include, (i) strengthening coordination among Gender Based Violence actors both at sub county and District level, organizing dialogues with police and health workers, passing of by-laws and ordinances related to Gender Based Violence, as well as reviving community policing in addition to continuous engagement with both clan and religious to add voice to the advocacy since they hold power in our communities.