With an aim of increasing access to post Gender Based Violence (GBV) services for adolescent girls and young women, a group of students from Makerere University under Resilient Africa Network have launched a mobile application that will enable victims to access post gender-based violence services.
According to Arafat Kabugo one of the innovators, "Centres4Her" is an innovative digital platform on smartphones that links GBV survivors to the nearest service point within a 10km radius from where they are.
"This application can be downloaded free of charge from Google play store can be helpful to those in need of services," he said.
He says that services provided include; HIV testing centres, hospitals, health centres, psychosocial support and rehabilitation centres, shelters, pro bono legal services, police surgeons as well as comprehensive family planning services.
In 2019, Centers4Her with support from UN Women and Resilient Africa Network was piloted at Makerere University to assess usability and feasibility among university students.
"With over 500 downloads to date, Centres4Herr has moved to scale up in communities around Kampala working with GBV, HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) minded partners including Marie Stopes, Naguru Teenage information and health centre, Makerere University Gender mainstreaming directorate among others with an aim of increasing access to post GBV services alongside HIV and SRHR services targeting adolescent girls and young women between 10-24 years," he said.
Kabugo added that the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey revealed that up to 22% of women aged 15 to 49 in the country had experienced some form of sexual violence and that annually, 13% of women aged 15 to 49 report experiencing sexual violence which translates to more than 1 million women exposed to sexual violence every year in Uganda and it is for such reason that they decided to come up with such an innovation to help in that fight against gender based violence.
Terry Don Waboga another member of the team said the notion of domestic violence is relatively new and largely unknown to the Ugandan society with many citizens believing that the term refers to the most serious cases where severe physical injury is sustained by the victim hence living many gender based cases unattended to.
Apart from lack of awareness of what constitutes violence, other barriers to accessing help by the victims include stigmatization and the lack of responsiveness of mostly male police officers.
He said that they hope to scale to all parts of the country after acquiring the USSD code that allows even those without smartphones to access the services.
According to the Uganda Police Crime Report, 7.2 per cent (15,638 cases) of all crimes reported in 2019 were sex related. The mid-year Uganda Police Crime Report (January - June, 2020) shows that on average, a total of 2,707 cases of sexual and gender-based violence were reported to police every month.