Africa-Press – Uganda. Despite having elaborate legal and policy structure, incidents of gender based violence (GBV/SGBV) in the country continues to rise.
According a statement crafted in response to the National Budget Speech Fy2022/23 by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), a non-partisan women’s rights organization in Uganda, GBV/SGBV has “a huge cost implication on the government in terms of lost productivity, treatment and management of victims, and case management.”
The Uganda Institute of Public Health in March 2021 identified 390 SGBV-reported cases during the lockdown with females reporting 326 cases, translating to 84 per cent.
Further, a recent annual police report confirmed 17,533 domestic violence cases with up to 1,486 rape and 14,570 defilement cases. Another 8,681 child-related offenses and 16,373 sex-related crimes were noted by authorities.
“We are concerned that government is not investing enough in mindset change to eliminate negative cultural practices that drive up these numbers, as evidenced by the Shs797.54 billion funding gap for the Community Mobilization and Mindset Change (CMMC) Programme,” reads the statement issued during the news conference held at FOWODE offices in Ntinda, Kampala earlier in the week.
FOWODE also claims government has inadequately invested in the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) which derails justice on issues affecting women and GBV victims.
“Only 6.5 per cent of defilement cases (639 out of 14,436) and 1.7 per cent (25 out of 1,519) reported in 2021 had secured convictions by May 2022,” reads the statement.
Uganda recently activated an Electronic Court Case Management system (ECCMIS) to expedite judicial processes.
“We consider this effort insufficient to significantly improve women’s access to and acquisition of justice,” the organization said as they called for increased funding towards enabling the Police Child and Family Protection Unit (CFPU) to carry out its classified duties.
Uganda has the sixteenth highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, and the tenth highest number of child brides estimated over 4 million.
Current statistics indicate that 34 percent of Uganda’s more than 20million-female population are married before the age of 18 and 7.3 per cent before the age of 15.
Among the commonest vices experienced by young children are teenage pregnancies, child labour, defilement, as well as child marriages. Uganda is currently home to 5 million child brides, of whom 1.3 million were married before the age of 15 due to poverty caused by the pandemic. Some families were forced to marry off their daughters to help alleviate financial burdens.
About 290,219 teenage pregnancies were recorded between January and September 2021; translating to over 32,000 monthly. Girl-child marriages and teenage pregnancies are seen to be a major cause for school-age dropouts. In Uganda, early pregnancies often lead to maternal and child mortality, premature birth, and obstructed labour.
“Financing for reproductive health services is highly donor-dependent, thus making it difficult for the sustainability of such services,” reads the statement.
Delivering the FY2022/23 budget, finance minister Matia Kasaija disclosed that a $217 million grant had been secured from the World Bank to support female entrepreneurs.