Bena not her real name [with her child from fetching water], for she preferred anonymity as she shared her story, could not continue with school due to lack of the basics she needed to keep her studying. She was then forced into marriage by her parents at only14 years. She later got to know she had been infected with HIV when she went for antenatal care. Since then her spouse became her tormentor, exposing her to all forms of violence. He beats her, and takes away the money from the proceeds of their harvest.
Bena is stranded for she has nowhere to go, and since efforts to seek redress have so far failed she resigned to staying in this abusive relationship.
Bena is one of the many cases UGANET has come across as they implement the TASO GLOBAL FUND GBV Prevention project. This project the first of its kind is meant to remove Legal, structural, and community barriers and strengthen systems in addressing violence against women and girls (VAWG) in the context of HIV and AIDS in Uganda.
Among the interventions that are being implemented include the skills development model for critical service actors such as the community GBV champions, Police officers, Health workers, Judicial officers and policy makers to acquire Knowledge and skills in responding to GBV as per their mandate.
Most recent reports have attributed violence against women and girls to cultural, religious, legal and other structural barriers, limited commitment among duty bearers and law enforcement agents and most of all early marriages.
With this model, victims such as Bena can be identified by community based Stop GBV champions who refer them to police and other conduits for timely service provision. So far there are testimonies that attest to an improved working relationship between communities and the different systems of government, better coordination and responsiveness of key players toward addressing the Gender based Violence suffered by the girls.
This Day of the girl child, we are re-echoing the need for a conducive legal environment for young girls in seeking justice so that there is reduction in the numbers of young girls suffering violence.
Let’s stop violence against girls, lets support them as they seek justice for the rights violations suffered.