Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a pressing concern in the Busoga region and beyond, manifesting in various forms and impacting vulnerable groups such as women, girls with disabilities, older persons, refugees, and migrants. Of particular concern is Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), including rape and defilement, leading to unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy complications, and sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS.
To address this alarming trend, the Uganda Police, in collaboration with the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), is spearheading the 16 Days of Activism, an annual international initiative aimed at raising awareness and sensitizing communities to combat GBV effectively. The event, scheduled for December 12 at Jinja Railway Grounds, will bring together stakeholders from the judiciary, police, and medical institutions to showcase strategies for eliminating sexual gender-based violence.
SP James Mubi, the publicist for Kiira Regional Police, shared insights with Busoga Today, highlighting the rigorous preparations for the event. Mubi encourages active community participation, emphasizing the importance of education on reporting and handling GBV cases at various levels, including the police, the DPP’s office, and the courts.
Mubi underscores the significance of protecting crime scenes, often overlooked by the public, as silent witnesses crucial to investigations. He notes that many individuals lack awareness of when and where to report cases of sexual gender-based violence, emphasizing the need for community engagement.
SGBV is often rooted in poverty, leading to early marriages, withdrawal of girls from education, and increased domestic tasks for young girls to generate income. Economic distress and unemployment in households further contribute to the rise in GBV cases within communities.
Reports indicate complicity among parents and caretakers who cover up perpetrators, collaborating with local authorities to settle cases outside the legal system. Mubi stresses that everyone has the potential to be a defender against SGBV and other forms of violence. He highlights the role of the Professional Standard Unit (PSU) and Standby Disciplinary Courts at police stations, instrumental in prosecuting unethical conduct by police officers involved in the mishandling of criminal cases.
Recent cases of rape and defilement in the Kiira region, particularly in Buwenge, Buyengo, and Kakira in Jinja district, spotlight the urgency of comprehensive efforts to address GBV. Police attribute some of these cases to sugarcane cutters exploiting young girls with gifts. Suspects, including a local village leader who allegedly turned his daughter into a third wife, have been taken to court, with some serving sentences at Kirinya prisons.