7 November 2012

Uganda: Judges Want Laws On Gender Violence Improved

Kampala — A group of Ugandan judges have asked government bodies to enhance the domestic violence Act to protect the lives of especially women and children.

The judges, under the National Association of Women's Judges of Uganda (NAWJ) want to see the law against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment strictly adhered to.

In Uganda, women have fallen victim of unending domestic issues which have most times turned violent. Even still, there have also emerged incidents where men have been on the receiving end of torture from women.

Rtd Justice Mary Maitum observed that there are more women harassed in rural areas than in the urban settings, placing the statistic at 68%.

She called upon police to investigate domestic violence issues professionally and maintain confidentiality after cross examination by the medical personnel.

According to the judge, female police should deal with the women, and male officers with men.

"It is of concern that domestic violence continues to happen with impunity, yet there is a domestic violence Act that would be an answer to the silent victims if implemented," she added.

She perceived violence against women as an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace.

Justice Stella Arach-Amoko shared similar thoughts towards such a sensitive gender issue as domestic violence.

"Violence against women in families and societies is perceived and cuts across lines of income class and culture. This should be matched by urgent and effective steps in order to be eliminated," she noted.

Police registered a total of 268,811 cases, of which 99,321 were criminal in nature, compared to 262,936 cases reported in 2011, of which 99,917 were criminal.

Part of these cases arose from sex-related offences - rape, defilement, indecent assault, to mention but a few.

The judges were at the closure ceremony of a training workshop for women judges organized under the theme "Supporting the adequate implementation of the Domestic Violence Act", held at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala mid this week.

The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja Kakooza said the implementation would eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and would boost the achievement of equality, development and peace in the country.

"Develop penal, civil, labour and administrative sanctions in domestic legislation to punish and redress the wrongs caused to women who are subjected to violence."

The IGG recommended that women who are subjected to violence should be allowed access to the mechanisms of justice to effect remedies for the harm they have suffered.

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