Richard Nelson

U.S. government launches five-year program to fight GBV in Uganda

(Last Updated On: 10 January 2024)

 

Gulu I The American government and Government to Government (G2G) through funding from USAID have partnered to implement a five-year strategic program to fight rampant cases of gender-based violence (GBV) in Uganda.

The program will cover over seven sub-regions across Uganda. Each of the regional referral hospitals in Acholi, Lango, Karamoja, Busoga, Ankole, and Kigezi will be supported to improve and offer quality health services to GBV victims.

According to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (RRH) which covers Acholi sub-region and other parts of Lango sub-region, during financial 2022-2023, over 493 individuals were served with post-GBV care services at the facility. This was from October 2022 to September 2023. The percentage of GBV in the region stands at 53.

Another report shows that between October 2022 and September 2023, in Gulu district, over 108 sexual violence survivors were enrolled for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

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Dr. Janani Luwum Bishop, in-charge of public health care services at Gulu RRH commented on how they are struggling to adapt to new strategies for fighting GBV in the region. “We are doing a routine screening of clients for GBV, offering psychological counselling to survivors and family members.

“Establishment and creating relevant network linkages over mental health support to the family or victims to help in collecting data for GBV and prevention management,” Dr. Luwum added.

He also noted that the hospital has designed a “legal redress system” on gender-based violence to rescue survivors or victims. Also, he said there is an available room for HIV pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis services.

“About 97 per cent of gender-based violence cases have been registered in northern Uganda according to a report that has been conducted by USAID between financial year 2022-2023,” Luwum disclosed during stakeholder engagement at Acholi Inn Hotel, Gulu City.

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He urged that with this rampant percentage of cases of GBV across northern Uganda, there is a need for regular engagement and sensitization of the local people to understand the dangers in our lives.

Jacky Akongo from a civil society organization based in Gulu City revealed that as CSOs, they are coming out with good community structures by joining both women and men to advocate for gender-based violence awareness. This, she said, will be through door-to-door advocacy strategies.

Akongo further highlighted that in the northern region, about 78 per cent of women face a lot of gender-based violence amidst the effects of post-LRA war.

She confirmed that civil society organizations are working tirelessly together with health workers in the region. They are organizing health workers’ mentorship on data analysis over gender-based violence in the community for accurate statistical reports.

Okello Owuna, Prime Minister of Acholi Cultural Institution [Ker-Kwaro Acholi] in his communication, said as a cultural institution they are trying to abandon events like funerals where a deceased was a victim of GBV.

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“Economic challenge has caused the poor parents to accept little dowry while forcing their children to marry in a rich family. There is an upper hand of defilement and marrying the underaged. We are fighting such behaviour in the community,” Okello noted.

Land disputes among the relatives and other tribes; he said have claimed many lives. “A lot of torture cases have emerged. Many widows and widowers have had abundant trespasses to their lands.”

The Prime Minister noted that the principle of marriage has changed to competition marriage where some family tends to price up the amount of dowry for their children which limits the poor family not to try to marry. “This t is causing GBV. But as a cultural institution, we are trying to amend the law that fixes the price of marriage in Acholi’ Shs3m to shs 5m Uganda and five cattle plus other requirements.”

Polygamous marriage, he said is also “fuelling” gender-based violence. “A man with many women who does not perform his duty and responsibility like paying school fees, among other needs cause violence.”

Richard Nelson is the USAID Uganda Mission Director. During an interview with tndNews in Gulu City, he said the five-year program will trigger campaigns for social behaviour and mindset change around health, marriage, and GBV in Uganda.

“We are trying to create awareness on gender-based violence to those who have never experienced so not to be involved, survivors or victims to which he or she went through have been supported.

The USAID Director also noted that men have a greater chance to be gender-based violent than women. “They (women) fear to report the case to the authority. However, men are the most common perpetrators of sexual violence on women, fueling GBV. This campaign will address such behaviours.”

The major focal point for this campaign is to educate the local community on gender-based violence to make them understand its cause and its effects on individuals, according to Nelson. “We will use mass media platforms to persuade and educate the locals while bringing the survivors on board to get help.”

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