21 April 2017

Uganda: Encourage People to Report Domestic Violence


This week, one woman's denouncement of domestic violence and action to seek divorce on those grounds made fodder for local media and social media.

Ms Daniella Atim, the estranged wife of renowned local artiste Joseph Mayanja aka Chameleone, filed to dissolve their nine-year marriage on Tuesday at Nakawa Chief Magistrate's Court, citing assault that begun in 2013 as the major reason.

The Uganda Domestic Violence Act 2010 defines domestic violence broadly to include physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, and economic abuse of a victim or anyone related to him/her.

The Act further states that harassing, harming, injuring or endangering the victim or anyone related to the victim for the purpose of coercing them into complying with "any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security" are also considered domestic violence.

Ms Atim is one of the few women who have been able to come forward to report domestic violence and go ahead to start means to legally cut ties with her partner.

According to Police reports, domestic violence still remains one of the least reported cases and thus has far-reaching consequences on victims many of whom remain silent.

The recent crime report released by Uganda Police, for instance, reveals that last year, 163 women met their deaths from domestic violence--up from the recorded 109 in 2010.

It is no wonder the media often runs stories of women mutilated at the hands of abusive partners. Rural women like their urban counterparts are also prone to abuse.

Beyond finding the statistics, there is need to sensitise and empower communities on the existing laws and their options for reporting domestic violence.

Involvement of leaders especially traditional leaders like Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi to end gender-based violence in Buganda through being part of the global campaign "HeForShe" are commended and should be emulated in other parts of Uganda.

Victims of domestic violence should be confident to report their cases and get support of systems such as the family, police, judiciary and the community. Efforts of different organisations such as Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention have gone ahead to formulate support systems for domestic violence must be supported. Particularly at family level, partners must be encouraged to speak out, seek redress and not be stigmatised as this only perpetuates the issue.

Unless we give these cases priority, the high prevalence of domestic violence will continue to stand in the way of social and economic development of the country. Irrespective of one's social standing.


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