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Boys, men faced increased sexual violence during lockdown

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A survey by the Makerere University School of Public Health has indicated that many more men and boys are being battered, sexually abused, or forced into sex by women.

The finding is based on a survey conducted in August 2020, among 2,500 adolescent boys and young men aged between 10 and 24, across the five divisions of Kampala. The study involved both school-going and out of schoolboys and young men.

80 of them acknowledged that they were sexually abused or forced to have sex against their will especially during the lockdown. Dr Joseph Matovu, a co-principal investigator on the study says that the findings show that while attention is more on the girl child, boys are equally at risk of being abused as girls.

According to Matovu, sexual abuse was more common among adolescents and men out of school, the majority of them aged above 14. The findings also show that 770 were slapped or physically hurt by a girlfriend or partners, parent or teacher in the last 12 months.

31 percent of the correspondents said they were beaten by their girlfriends and spouses while 42 percent of the adolescents still in school were beaten by teachers.

Prof Rhoda Wanyenze, the lead investigator says they decided to focus on men because they realised they are commonly left out yet they have high mortality rates.

“When you look at global data you find that the mortality among young people is higher in boys and young men compared to females. Something must be wrong with the young boys that we are probably not looking out for and our findings show that the more harm that makes face is in the form of violence either physically or mentally,” she said.

The findings from the study come at a time when the country is grappling with high female teenage pregnancies that are believed to be associated with the lockdown. According to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, over 67,000 cases of impregnated school children have been recorded in the last seven months.

Lydia Najjemba Wasula, the coordinator of the Violence Against Children program at the Ministry of Gender says parents need to get involved in keeping their children safe. She says the lockdown has shown how unsafe homes can be for children.

“We have received reports and they show that both girls and boys are facing different types or forms of violence. With children at home, we need the parents to step in to keep their children safe,” she said.

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