The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA) on 10th April 2020 launched an online petition calling upon President Museveni and the entire Government of Uganda to Prioritise Violence against Women in Uganda’s COVID-19 Response.
This comes days after several organisations around the world advocating for women rights claim that Gender Based Violence (GBV) has escalated during this period of total lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Talking to Robinah Rubimbwa, a Woman Rights Advocate with Coalition for Action On 1325, she revealed to us that ever since the lockdown started, they have been receiving numerous calls from women and sister organisations in different districts and regions of the country reporting new cases of gender based violence.
Ms. Robinah further says that cases of domestic violence that are being reported do not only stop at women but extend to children.
The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers says over 15 cases of domestic violence are being registered on a daily basis in each of the 16 districts where the organization is operating.
FIDA says that they have noted increasing violence against women and girls both in public and domestic spaces at the hands of intimate partners, guardians and security forces.
Ms. Robinah attributes the upsurge to restricted movement as dictated by the Government and further says that normally, men wake up and go to work.
But the lock down has now held both partners together all day and men only move to drink. This has resulted into frustration especially on those who earn daily income.
This frustration denies them the capacity to objectively think and they end up becoming physical.
On the other hand, women are less likely to perpetrate domestic violence because they naturally prefer talking to going physical and they will only go physical as the last resort.
In such times of emergency, it’s very hard to have coherent methods normally functioning. Therefore, for any issue to be seriously considered, it has to be prioritized by the government.Each police station has police officers in charge of family and children matters.
However according to Ms. Robinah, these police officers are not readily available at the station these days as they have adjusted to implementing the guidelines of the President. She says that Gender based violence is also equally an emergency and results into death in some circumstances.
FIDA calls upon women to take personal initiative to report the cases. Ms. Robinah also advises women to call or record videos when they witness cases of violence.
They call upon the government to prioritize safety of women and require district probation officers to stay at work ready to respond to cases of gender based violence.