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Sexually abused girls, women to get legal assistance

Toll free line to support survivors of gender-based violence has been put in place.  Sylvia Mukasa, CEO LASPNET.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Legal Aid Service Providers Network- LASPNET has launched a campaign to connect sexually abused girls and women to lawyers who will help in giving them timely legal information and assist in seeking justice.

In the campaign for eliminating violence against women and girls, Sylvia Namubiru, executive director of LASPNET told journalists on Friday that females who are sexually harassed in different districts will be immediately assisted in seeking justice by lawyers, paralegals and law students who will be manning call centers established.

“The victims will use the mobile call center toll line 0800111401 established by LASPNET and United Nations Development Programme to reach the service providers who are to be centered in districts like Amudat, Arua, Kasese, Kampala, Kyegegwa among others. Each call center will be manned by 12 service providers, says Namubiru.

She said the lawyers will receive the cases and provide on-spot advice on what to do, give psycho-social support, make referrals to the right officers who will handle the issue at police stations and also direct the victims to organisations which will avail them with lawyers for legal representation.

Namubiru noted that this initiative was established after finding a gap amidst the COVID-19 lockdown where many justice institutions were closed and their services scaled down amidst the increased cases gender based violence cases.

According to the Ministry of Gender and Social Development, there have been many cases of gender based violence as the result of lockdown. Namubiru said that victims of GBV lack the relevant information and confidence to report the perpetrators to the responsible justice institutions such as police, courts of law and Legal aid service providers.

Namubiru who leads fifty-four organizations under the Legal AID services umbrela asked women and young girls in different districts to utilize the call centers so as to get justice for these issues. She added that a team of lawyers who will be responding to clients will be trained on how to adapt to the system.

She said that this will be minimizing the cost of accessing justice and bringing justice nearer to the community since majority of the people caught up in these cases are poor and vulnerable.

Badru Walusansa, director of programs LASPNET said the cost of accessing justice is high yet majority of the people caught up in these cases are poor and vulnerable. He recommended that women prioritise the use of call centers once they get involved in sexual harassment.

The prevalence of sexual gender based violence stands at 35% of women worldwide that have experienced either physical and or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. The 2019 police report shows that 13,613 defilement and 1,528 rape cases were reported in the country.

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