The Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) has urged Parliament to speed up the passage of the gender bills that were recently returned to the 11th Parliament to help address the problem of violence against women and girls.

“Violence against women and girls remains the most widespread and pervasive violation of women’s human rights in Uganda. It is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to the domination and discrimination of women by men and prevented the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared to men,” said Rita Aciro, the organisation’s executive director.

The call was made during the International Human Rights Day commemoration event, which also marked the end of the 16-day Global Campaign against Gender-Based Violence under the slogan “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”.

“The 2021 national survey on violence against women conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicated that 95% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence, or both, by their partners or non-partners since the age of 15. The UBOS 2020 survey revealed that 56% of women with a partner have experienced intimate partner violence of a sexual or physical nature or both, 76% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a non-partner, 22% of these perpetrators being family members, and 86% of women have experienced violence in the workplace,” Aciro said.

Furthermore, she noted that child marriage remains a serious problem in Uganda: 34 per cent of women aged 20-24 were married or in union before the age of 18 and 7 per cent were married before the age of 15. Available data also indicates that 13% and 52% of girls and women aged 15-49, respectively, have undergone female genital mutilation.”

The UWONET executive director said sexual violence is a silent killer among many women and girls, adding that bills such as the Sexual Offences Bill 2019 should be passed for victims to get redress.

In August 2021, President Yoweri Museveni refused to sign the bill, arguing that much of its content was already covered by existing legislation.

(*) With information provided by Kenneth Kazibwe for the Nile Post – distributed by All Africa News – and Juliet Nalwooga for KFM.