KAMPALA — The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has asked civil society organisations and other related players to take the fight against Gender Based Violence outside conference and air conditioning rooms.
Presiding over at the high level stakeholders engagement by the Uganda Parliamentary Women Association (UWOPA), Tayebwa said most of the GBV cases are happening down in the countryside communities.
“Most of the cases that we do hear about are happening down in the villages where women and girls are not empowered to report,” Tayebwa said, adding that, as “a young boy, I witnessed a lot of Gender based violence in my village”
The Deputy Speaker also asked sector players to refocuse and find the drivers of gender based violence.
“Upcountry mainly, I think it’s due to low levels of education, poverty, alcohol and primitive beliefs that a man is above a woman even when a woman is feeding a man,” he said, committing that Parliament as an institution would continue deliberate action in supporting UWOPA in their campaign to end violence towards girls and women.
Tayebwa said parliament has realized developments in creating an enabling environment for eliminating GBV through enactment of laws such as the domestic act 2010, the prevention of trafficking in persons act 2009, the penal code act cap 120, FGM act 2010 among others.
He added: “We want to ensure that we pass laws and policies and ensure that are fully implemented.we have established the committee on Post Legislative Scrutiny which will be helping us to ensure that the laws we pass are implemented but also to be able to identify the gaps that would need to be updated”.
At least 644,955 teenage pregnancies were recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Figures from the agency show that since March 2020 when COVID-19 hit the world, an estimated 354,736 teenage pregnancies were reported following the closure of all schools in the country for at least eight months.
An additional 290,219 pregnancies were reported between January and September 2021.
Tayebwa said that these figures at endemic proportion levels have a very devastating impact on health, wellbeing, education and future economic productivity of girls towards gender equality
“I commit on behalf of this institution of Parliament to ensuring that issues of gender based violence, maternal rights and sexual reproductive rights and services are incorporated in the 2023/2024 national budget”.
Tayebwa urged Members of Parliament to be champions in fighting against gender based violence and to encourage victims of the same to speak up by reporting such cases to relevant authority.
Violence against women has recently taken new, more sophisticated forms. An increasing number of women are, for instance, reporting cyber-bullying and abuse through social media and smartphones.
Maria Hakansson, Swedish ambassador to Uganda said Gender Based Violence not only affects the individual victims but also the development of the country.
Ambassador Hakansson who also represented the European Union in Uganda said the majority of Ugandan women are still denied the right to make decisions.
“To address Gender-Based Violence, we need to lay back and tackle the root causes of gender inequality. If we don’t address the root cause of violence, our efforts to eliminate it will be significantly less effective, Ambassador Hakansson said.
Sarah Mateke, the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs called for a revamp in strategies to end GBV and other violations.
“GBV is a reality in our society and as Members I request that we unite so that we can end this,” Ms. Mateke said.
This form of abuse thrives on an absence of funding, proper legislation and a lack of investigative expertise among Ugandan law enforcement officers, Sarah Opendi, the UWOPA Chairperson said.
The Tororo Woman MP also asked the government to construct a safe place for GBV victims at least in every region of Uganda.
“Rt. Hon Speaker, it’s Parliament’s responsibility to appropriate funds. As some of the women and girls seek justice, they have nowhere to run to stay as they try to pursue their cases,” Opendi said, adding that it can’t be CSO’s role to shelter victims of GBV.
She wants Parliament to advocate for shelters where women and girls that are facing violence can take some refuge as they seek justice.