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Barbie Kyagulanyi calls for intense debate on sexual harassment at global conference in Canada

Ms. Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi gives her key note address at a global conference in Canada. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA — Ms. Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi, a wife to Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has urged Ugandan authorities to open a debate on a wide range of domestic violence including sexual harassment, labour extortion, human trafficking that she says are rampant in the country.

Ms. Kyagulanyi made the remarks as she gave a key note at the two-day conference in Toronto that also brought together Ugandans in Canadian Diaspora among other people.

Ms. Itungo says it is time to break the silence about these evils happening to women, our mothers, sisters and friends.

The conference was organized by PTMOF Canada an NGO that is working to improve lives of teen mothers in Uganda and in Canada.

Ms. Itungo notes that the list of violations exerted on women and girls in the society today are enormous.

“Sadly, We have not opened up discussions about these transgrations. We are silently hearing of or even painfully experiencing these gross atrocities and we are not doing much to change the situation,” Ms. Itungo says.

Ms. Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi gives her note address during a global conference in Canada. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

“The discussion about Violence towards women and youth should be made in our homes and with our leaders,” she says adding that cases about violations towards women should be given better attention and all evils committed in this line brought to book.

Violence against women has recently taken new and more sophisticated forms.

An increasing number of women are, for instance, reporting cyber-bullying and abuse through social media and smartphones.

This form of abuse, she said thrives on an absence of proper legislation and a lack of investigative expertise among Ugandan law enforcement officers and that government remains largely unprepared to handle some new forms of VAW, especially cyber abuse.

Uganda’s 2016 police crime report indicates that defilement cases alone rose by 34 percent, from 13,118 in 2015 to 17,567 in 2016. Defilement is the act of having sex with girls under 18.

Rape cases reported, according to the report, also increased, from 1,419 to 1,572.

A report released recently by researchers from Makerere University College of Health Sciences indicated that one out of five female people with hearing impairments has been a victim of rape in the last 12 months.

A 2015 report by the International Justice Mission indicates that 40% of widows experience actual or attempted property grabbing in their lifetime.

More than 30% of widows are victims of property grabbing. In many cases the widows spoke of perpetrators (usually relatives of their deceased husbands) threatening and physically assaulting them and sometimes making attempts on their lives and those of their children.

Police crime reports from 2011 through 2017 also indicate that deaths resulting from domestic violence went down by a significant 54%—from 358 to 163—in this time.

According to statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), out of 1,594 new rape and 7,618 defilement cases reported in 2015 and 2016, only 57% brought punishment to the perpetrator. Such a low number gives others a sense of impunity, and in so doing exacerbates VAW.

Between 2012 and 2017, about 5 percent of all sexual violence cases handled in a year by the ODPP have been closed due to lack of evidence, according to a CEDOVIP study.

The police and Ministry of Health—the two leading public institutions in GBV response—spend an estimated UGX 37.7 billion (about $10.4 million) annually dealing with GB.

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