Women activists want government to allocate more resources to tackling sexual and gender-based violence (SGVB) and its effects in the 2011/2012 national budget.
In a report just released by Forum for Women in Democracy (Fowode), women say SGVB is such a serious human rights and public health issue that should not be ignored in the budget.
The report, titled “Where is the Money for Gender-based Violence in Uganda” calls on the government to consider SGVB as a serious issue that disproportionately affects women and girls of all ages across cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.
The report is based on studies carried out in four districts of Mubende, Yumbe, Kampala and Kotido.
SGVB is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women.
According to the report, 60 percent of Ugandan women have experienced physical violence, 39 percent have experiences sexual violence while 16 percent have experienced violence during pregnancy.
Patricia Munaabi, the executive director of Fowode, says they are concerned about SGVB because it has a number of health problems like injury, disability, death and sexually transmitted diseases.
Other health effects include problem pregnancies, difficult labor, miscarriages, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortions, depression and chronic infections.
Munaabi says while the government is addressing SGVB, like training health workers, provision of supplies for managing the problem and actual treatment in some cases, the interventions are still too little.
She says the coverage of the government’s intervention is too minimal, like targeting just seven districts of Busia, Bugiri, Kayunga, Mpigi, Masaka, Amuria and Gulu out 0f 114 districts in the 2009/2010 budget.
Munaabi says it is crucial to note that Uganda has good laws and institutions that should protect women but are simply not implemented.
These laws include the Constitution, international legal instruments, the Penal Code, the Female Genital Mutilation Act, the Domestic Violence Act and Trafficking in Persons Act, the Children Act among others.
The institutions include, among others, the health and gender ministries and the Child and Family protection Unit of the Uganda Police Force.
The Fowode report calls on the government to take bold steps in addressing gender-based violence including making specific budgets for it in all sectors nationally.
The report recommends that the health ministry sets up an appropriate gender program so as to ensure that the ideas in the Health Sector Strategic Plan are implemented.
It also recommends that the health ministry continues to build the capacity of its workers to address sexual and gender-based violence and build examination centers across the country.
Fowode also recommends the provision of exposure prophilaxis for rape and defilement survivors, as well as health workers, to prevent them from acquiring HIV.
The report concludes by arguing that it is not enough for Uganda to condemn or legislate against violence against women if it does not provide the resources and ensure the implementation of laws in order to give real protection to women.
sexual and gender based violence