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GREAT LAKES: Civil Society calls for action on sexual and gender based violence

Civil Society in the Great Lakes region has called for the accelerated implementation of the ICGLR Kampala Declaration on sexual and gender based Violence

The Kampala Declaration Conference is on in Kampala May 25-27. It seeks to coordinate efforts of regional security while simultaneously addressing the difficult and deep rooted problems such as Sexual and Gender and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in its 12 member states.

 

 

 

 

Background

In December 2011, the heads of state and governments in the 12 countries gathered from the 15th– 16th of December, 2011 at the 4th Ordinary Summit and special session on Sexual and Gender Based Violence and adopted the Kampala Declaration on Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

The heads of state and government declared zero tolerance on crimes and impunity and called for national campaigns on zero tolerance for SGBV. Further they resolved that direct and concerned ministries to establish and strengthen special courts, sessions and procedures in order to fast track SGBV in the police and judiciary and fast track a special fund for survivors and set up recovery centres.

 

Uganda’s case

According to the 2010 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, over two thirds (68%) of ever married women have experienced some kind of gender based violence with the situation worse for rural women (61%) than urban women (54%). 78% of women in Uganda also reported being subjected to domestic violence. Other forms of sexual and gender-based violence persist, including early and forced marriages as well as widow inheritance, which is still practiced in some communities. While the rates of female genital mutilation are decreasing, the practice continues to exist among the Sebei community of Eastern Uganda.

Uganda like many of the other countries in the region has made great strides to fulfil their commitments to prevent SGBV, punish perpetrators and support survivors as stated in the declaration. A number of legislations on SGBV have been developed as well as putting in place gender focal points within different government ministries and departments. Child and Family Protection Officers have been placed at every Police Station to provide assistance in the reporting of cases and also extend counselling services to SGBV survivors. Since 2012, SGBV has been incorporated into the Police Training Curriculum and the Criminal Investigations Directorate now includes an SGBV Department.

 

Courts not ready

However, Uganda has not set up special courts to handle SGBV cases and efforts to sensitise judges and magistrates on SGBV are still minimal. The police is faced with challenges such as understaffing, corruption and obsolete methods of evidence gathering and preservation. This negatively affects the success of women and girls in accessing justice for sexual crimes committed against them.

However across the region, the common cause for concern is reflected in the limited availability of necessary funding to comprehensively address SGBV and support all survivors. National level implementation does not include rehabilitation of SGBV perpetrators under prevention strategies and actions. Therefore, while there is a heavy focus on redress and support for survivors, their protection from repeat by offenders after imprisonment must be considered.

 

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