13 September 2018

Uganda: Absence of Female Police Officers Hampering Fight Against Sexual Violence - Official

Kampala — The absence of female police officers at majority of the police posts in the districts of Gomba and Mukono, is hampering the fight against sexual violence against women, an official has said.

Ms Noor Nakibuuka Musisi, an official from a Center for Health, Human Rights and Development, explained earlier today that the absence of the female police officers has made some women/girls to fear to report sexual abuses committed against them.

Ms Nakibuuka, named Mamba Police Post in Gomba District and Nkonge Police Post Mukono as some of the posts without female officers attached to them.

"Our engagements in districts of Gomba and Mukono, have found that there are no women posted on most police posts which creates fear for communities to report cases involving women as criminal suspects for fear that no one is available to arrest them," Ms Nakibuuka said.

She was speaking at a dialogue in Kampala themed: 'The role of duty bearers in advancing access to improved quality HIV related services for adolescent girls and young women'.

"We have also engaged with the police post leaders who state that it necessitates them transport/ fuel to seek for a woman officer from a nearby post to arrest such suspects and sometimes such fuel is never available. This hinders access to justice and perhaps leads to communities losing hope in such structures." She added

The official also revealed that a surgeon in Mukono District, also serves three other districts and that survivors of gender based violence can only access the service after 2pm.

In response to this plea, Police spokesperson, SSP Emilian Kayima, promised to contact the respective district police commanders of the affected districts and have female officers posted.

"As soon as we are done with this dialogue, I am going to call the DPCs and see if we can post there female police officers not one or two but a number. However, their posting should not make them harmed." Mr Kayima said.

At the tail end of her presentation, Ms Nakibuuka pleaded that in a bid to ensure justice for all, posting of female officers to the cited police posts and others in that category, should be prioritized.

Police statistics show that there are about 43,000 police officers, out of which 7,000 are female.

Sexual violence is the most pervasive form of violence against women and girls.

The 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, indicates that one in five women experience sexual violence everyday yet sexual violence is under-reported and cases that reach the judicial system are only the tip of the iceberg.

Given the nature of the crime and the taboo of discussing sexual violence in Ugandan society, adjudication continues to be a complicated matter. Furthermore, more often than not, perpetrators are known to their survivors which further complicates the prosecution of such cases.

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