Ending GBV begins with educating and working with boys

23 year old Majuma Mercy, a resident of Gulu town still remembers vividly the day she was raped by a Boy who lived in their neighbourhood. She says it was  on the Easter  Sunday of 2009 at around 10pm when she was walking back home with her Friends when a boy who she later recognised his face came and grabbed her from the back and shovelled her to the ground.

She adds that her friends managed to run away leaving her in the hands of the Boy who was older and much stronger than her. The boy raped her and ran away. Majuma said she later learned that she was Pregnant as a result of the rape.  Her Mum reported the case to Police and the rapist was arrested after hiding for one year. Unfortunately, the Boy only stayed in Police Cell for two days because his wealthy family came and bailed him out.

Majuma’s story mirrors stories of thousands of Women across Uganda that Suffer from Sexual and Gender based Violence.

Often, Violence against Women and girls results from the negative and false perception of masculinity that makes men believe they hold a superior stake in Life.

According to the Uganda Health Demographic Survey 2016, one in five Ugandan Women, 22% report that they have experienced sexual violence at some point in time of their Life. The same survey indicates in 2011 that 56% of Women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence at least once since age 15.

According to Annual Police Crime reports, between 2011 and 2016, Gender based violence is a crime that too often goes unpunished. The reports further shows that cases of defilement have risen to a staggering 128%; rape by 202%  making it one case every 6 hours.

Uganda’s Domestic Violence Act 2010, the Prevention of trafficking Act 2009 and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2010 and part two of the Domestic Violence Act stipulates that a person in a domestic relationship who engages in domestic violence commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not exceeding forty eight currency points or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

In my Opinion, in order to end Violence against Women and girls, we must  address the root and structural causes. It should start early in Life by educating working with boys and girls in promoting respectful relationships and gender equality.

Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalisation [GWED-G], have been working with men role models in their work who normally champion the community in engaging fellow Men in discussion about gender based violence and how best to end it, this is confirmed by Pamela Angwech, an Executive Director.

It is important that all men initiate and continue dialogue among themselves about violence against women and girls and the broader issues about Gender and Masculinity.

Patrick Uma is Freelance Journalist in Northern Uganda, under NUMEC