14 January 2013

Uganda: Domestic Violence Costs Sh36 Billion Per Year

The Government loses sh36b annually in response to domestic violence, research has revealed. In 2011, there were over five million episodes of violence against women, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) and Makerere University's Economic Policy Research Centre.

Women are four times more likely to suffer emotional and physical turmoil than men as a result of violence meted against them. The eastern region was noted as the most affected area, according to the study.

But what most do not appreciate are the far reaching economic effects of domestic violence, not just on the survivors but the entire nation.

The country paid colossally, shouldering a sh53.7b burden as a result. This was 0.25% of Uganda's GDP.

Public service providers such as the judiciary, health facilities and Police spent Sh36bn, about 0.5% of the national budget.

Besides the physical and emotional effects, women, men and children lose about sh3b per year in earnings.

The research puts the annual costs for individual health care due the domestic violence at sh18.4b.

According to the study, as a result of domestic violence, the household earns less and spends more.

When a woman experiences violence and reports to the Police, her estimated out of pocket cost is sh17,900.

She spends sh19,300 when seeking medication and sh6,300 on local council courts.

The research found that up to 70% of men, compared to 60% of women, said a man is justified to beat his partner under certain circumstances.

The study traces the root cause of domestic violence to the deep male-controlled culture that promotes the supremacy of men to whom the presumably inferior women must submit.

Women have learned to accept violence, believing it is justified in some cases.

For instance, they are battered if they deny their husbands sex, neglect the children or even burn food, the report noted.

The research observed that men and women miss work, while their children fail to attend school due to domestic violence, and in some circumstances, women flee the home.

The advocacy officer for the Centre for Domestic Violence, Diana Kagere, said the Government has the responsibility to provide support to victims of violence.

However, since the Domestic Violence Act was passed in 2009, it has not been implemented, which has affected their activities, she noted.

"If the Government spends money on the implementation of the Act, then the costs incurred due to domestic violence would be less in the long run," she noted.

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