PARLIAMENT – The Youths have asked parliament to accelerate the progress of the Sexual Offences Bill to help curb the increasing cases of violence against women and girls.
The bill was first tabled before parliament in 2016 by the chairperson of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) Ms Monicah Amoding (NRM, Kumi) and shelved by parliament.
According to the youth, the Sexual Offences Bill 2016 was as a Private Members Bill, which sought to consolidate all laws related to sexual offences and also spells out clear sanctions against sex offenders.
Ms Silvia Akello [Otuke District Woman MP] said that sexual violence is one of the major challenges that negatively impact on the health and wellbeing of girls and young women in the country.
“Young girls are sexually violated in schools, workplaces and in communities generally.82 per cent of girls are sexually harassed right from secondary school and institution of higher learning. The sex for marks syndrome has left our young women violated by males in position of power,” MP Akello who presented the petition on behalf of the youth said.
She added that if the bill is fast-tracked, it will protect young women and men from all forms of sexual violence and ensure that schools, workplaces and communities become safe spaces.
The petition was presented during a celebration of the National Parliament Youth Advocacy Day last week [Friday] and the event was commemorated with a debate in the Parliamentary Chamber.
Ms Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament acknowledged that the Sexual Offences Bill was delayed but would ensure that it is passed into law very soon.
“I know that everything is clear that all the pending bills will be presented before October and I am ready for this Sexual Offences Bill because I know how important it is. And I have designated a sitting to legislate on these bills,” Ms Kadaga who was the chief guest at this event said.
The petition included concerns on the recently introduced social media tax which they want government to rescind the social media and mobile money taxes saying it infringes on the people’s right to access information and freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution.
The youth also contend that this is discriminatory to unemployed youth who use social media as a platform to search for job opportunities.
The youth also want the Minimum Wage Bill expeditiously passed on grounds that there are increased levels of exploitation from employers and that most youths have resorted to seeking for greener pastures abroad, where they are tortured, mistreated and sexually abused.