COVID-19 – A Domestic Violence Trigger In Uganda
KAMPALA, Uganda – Domestic violence, which may also be referred to as domestic abuse or family violence, is a growing vice in many communities. Globally, domestic violence is a challenge among the married couples more so in developing countries, Uganda inclusive.
Domestic violence became a growing concern especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Global lockdowns resulted in a horrifying surge in gender-based violence (GBV). This surge in domestic violence also had a direct impact on women victims as noted by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR). The pandemic deepened gender inequalities because “the burden of caring for children at home and sick or elderly family members falls disproportionately on women”.
UGANET has made recommendations aimed at benefitting all stake holders to the fight against domestic violence and ensure safety of families in long term recovery plans. It recommends that the government should allocate sufficient human and financial resources, undertake strong social awareness campaigns on the criminal nature of domestic violence and services available to victims, engage research organizations and think tanks to periodically develop databases and give updates about the different abuses faced by families.
The government, through the Ministry of Labor and Gender and Social Development, should gazette centers where the victims are collected for counseling services as a way of rehabilitating the victims from the trauma. The Ministry of Gender should put in place convenient and prompt response toll free lines to be used by the victims in case of any violence in homes.
Through their toll free Call Centre and Rising Woman Shelter Home and Wellness Center, UGANET has availed a platform for survivors to report cases like sexual harassment while providing direct temporary refuge and support to women and girls affected by violence. Indeed, hundreds of women have benefited from these services, several of them being evacuated from their traps with their abusers.
“There is need for initiation of a fully domestic violence legal section to permit easy access to justice, provision of economic support to the victims to promote their economic independence and other policy recommendations. It is very much unfortunate and dismaying that domestic violence cases are too often underestimated and go unpunished which enables the abuse to continue and to damage undermining the psycho-physical health of the victim and the home,” says Rhonah Babweteera, Head, Violence Against Women Prevention, UGANET.
There is a need for continuing efforts to combat this growing vice by not only providing shelter homes to survivors but also instituting legal procedures that would discourage perpetrators of domestic violence.