A total of seven out of 10 women translating into 68% have had their rights violated or know of someone who has faced this injustice, a new survey has indicated.
Named "From access to equality, empowering women to access justice in Uganda" , the baseline survey carried out by Avocats Sans Frontières and funded by the Netherlands Embassy in Uganda indicated that this state of affairs happens across the country.
"Interestingly, this was very high(66%-84%) in most districts apart from Masindi(35%) and Napak(39%) where a lower number of participants had neither been affected or knew someone who had experienced violation of their human rights," the survey that targeted 609 respondents says in part.
According to the survey, participants indicated that the crimes that were reported by themselves or someone they know included physical violence and disputes with family, neighbours or friends.
"The crimes also included sexual violence, economic violence, emotional violence, theft and robbery. Interviews with key informants highlighted gender based violence and land rights incidents were the most common types of cases reported across the four regions."
Gender based violence
The survey indicates that forms of gender based violence reported include sexual, mental, physical and economic harm inflicted in public or in private.
"The main perpetuators of gender based violence identified by the women interviewed in the survey include partners at 87%, other family members at 6%, women at 3% and youths at 2%," the survey further says.
According to Brenda Ataro, the project coordinator for From Access to Equality(FATE) at Avocats Sans Frontières said the study was prompted by issues surrounding access of justice for women.
"We realized we need to promote access for justice for women in an environment that supports their needs. There is need to look at specific needs of women. We have women with disabilities, teenage mothers, women living with HIV/AIDS and adolescent girls. This prompted us to conduct this study to understand what affects all these categories of women so that we can design specific kinds of interventions that speak to their needs when it comes to access to justice,"Ataro said.
She noted that the survey indicated that whereas majority of the women are aware that they have equal rights with men, a small number practice it.
Commenting about the survey on Tuesday during the launch of the report at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, State Minister for Gender and Culture, Peace Mutuuzo said the situation is alarming.
"I don't know why people continue to perpetuate injustice against women. Why would one go out to rape a woman or a young girl when there are many women out there offering themselves for marriage. There are so many social norms which are negative to our girls and women. We need to do away with them,"Mutuuzo said.
She noted that a lot of burden has been placed on girls and women and society and in the end, their rights have been violated without anyone to help them.
"We have brought the girl up showing her that she is supposed to stay home as the man goes out to fend for the family. This needs to change and women stop being harassed in homes."
"For the status quo to chase, women must rise up to the occasion. We won't get justice on a silver plate. If you want justice, first have it yourself. Don't compromise yourself. For duty bearers too should also change and start giving protection and courage to women who go to report cases of injustices."
The Gender and Culture Minister welcomed for efforts by all stakeholders to ensure the issue of injustice against women and girls is dealt with by learning from one another and engaging on emerging issues on access to justice for women.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda, Karin Boven said her government will support all efforts to ensure promotion of the rights of women in the country.
"Issues of women rights are near and dear to the heart of the Netherlands government. Uganda is commended for making great progress over the years towards gender equality with the legal framework, policies, guidelines and strategies,"Boven said.
She noted that it shows the country's commitment to ensuring gender equality but noted more efforts are needed.
"However, there are still some challenges for women especially when it comes to access to justice. There remains gender inequalities in Uganda and it is important to continue having discussions on these existing challenges so that women can be supported to access justice."