KAMPALA–The government of Uganda loses close to Shs77 billion annually on handling Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases across the country.
The Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET), an NGO involved in the fight against GBV and HIV/Aids, says GBV often takes a considerable financial toll on government, women and their families, resulting in a decline in economic stability and household income.
The findings were contained in a report entitled; The economic Cost of Domestic violence presented at a high level police institution dialogue on GBV and HIV at Imperial Royale Hotel recently.
While reading the report, UGANET executive director Ms Dorah Kiconco Musinguzi said statistics in Uganda indicate that 68% of married women aged between 15 and 48 had experienced some form of domestic violence.
Using data collected between 2015- 2016, Ms Kiconco revealed that more than 2000 women who had received treatment for GBV care at health facilities across the country and spent a single night at the health facility faced significantly greater expenses—and the resulting financial hardship—than women who had been treated as outpatients and did not report.
“For the women who undergo GBV, the risks of experiencing a loss of earnings and of reporting negative consequences for their children is so high and this explains why most women just keep quite even under worst domestic violence,” Kiconco said.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) and police political commissar, Asan Kasingye, said without women’s economic and financial independence, women will remain a vulnerable group that will be hit first when crises hit.
He said government has set up the policy frameworks and structures for GBV prevention and response which include the Domestic Violence Act of 2010, the prevention of Trafficking in Person Act (2009), and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (2010) as a good step towards fighting the vice.
He explained that 70% of the cases handled at police in the country are related to GBV but that police only handles about 40% of the Domestic related crimes in the country while the 60% remain unknown in the villages.
“And this is reason enough for us to now engage our directorate of human resource to get a curriculum for GBV in our training schools, train police officers in GBV in not less than three months and establish a training centre for GBV for the police force,” Kasingye said.
He said the amendment of the Police Form 3 (PF3) allows other medical workers to treat survivors of GBV, thus increasing access to justice for the affected and directed police to stop sending victims to photocopy PF3, 3A and B.
“Do you know that we have a directorate of logistics and engineering in the police force that can photocopy these forms and supply them across the country? Let us engage our directorate, we should stop torturing poor victims of GBV,” said Mr Kasingye.
He said police has also considered providing privacy for GBV victims in accordance with the law and that a force they will now allow young constables who are not even married to handle GBV cases.
Ms Buluba Florence, the executive director National Community of Women Living With HIV/AIDS (NACWOLA)scoffed at the police for using words that are offensive and cause stigmatisation GBV victims.
“The police usually stigmatizes the GBV victims by calling them raped women, you HIV positive woman, you defiled girl, you need to change your language in order to have GBV victims freely come to file their cases,” Buluba said.