“Cultural norms that discriminate against women are some of the causes of the problem. People who come from the cattle corridors believe girls between 14 and 15 should get married, they want women who are productive and refer to those between the ages of 24 to 25 as off-layers.”Hon. Joshua Anyawrach
Owing to rampant cases of sexual abuse exacerbated by the continued closure of schools and inadequate protection afforded to women and girls, who are the main victims of sex related offense in Uganda, rights advocates have urged the victims to avoid tempering with evidence to enable them bring perpetrators to book.
In 2020 alone, the crimes report by Uganda Police Forces (UPF) revealed that sex related crimes accounted for 8.2% of the total crimes committed and reported in Uganda, bringing the number to 16,144, an increase by 505 from 15,638 cases of sexual violence reported in 2019.
With lockdown measures by the government of Uganda attributed to COVID-19, the soring cases of teenage pregnancy and sexual abuse of girls has been devastating, most of which remain unreported or lack evidence to support claims in court.
The Executive Director of the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP), Tina Musuya, in a recent interview with Wizarts Foundation, noted that part of the problem undermining successful apprehension of perpetrators of sexual violence in Uganda is lack of adequate evidence to adduce in court, urging victims of these offenses to aid in evidence gathering.
“To hold perpetrators to account, we need evidence; we need to educate the victims not to tamper with evidence of sexual violence. We need also to tell these girls not to bath or wash their clothes after the act,” Musuya argued.
The 2020 crimes report found that of the 16,257 total cases of sex offenses reported, over 14,320 victims of these crimes were female juveniles. The report highlighted that the sex crimes committed during the period were either rape, defilement or indecent assault. Other offences also reported related to sodomy, lesbianism and bestiality.
Last year, under Face the Citizens (https://twitter.com/FaceTheCitizen5?s=20) Wizarts Foundation conducted programs to address sexual violence in institutions of learning. Parliament later formed a committee of inquiry to investigate the crime following a public outcry of sexual harassment female students in institutions of Higher Learning in Uganda.
Watch Face the Citizens Show by Wizarts Foundation on rampant Sexual Violence:
In the program, we talked to the members of the select committee of inquiry, Hon. Mwine Mpakaa, who said that their investigation established sexual violence in learning institution and that the vise is entrenche
He said part of the problem they found, is that the policy as well as the law are weak. Hon Mwine said that in one of the regions where they went to,about 60 perpetrators were still working.
He also cited the wide spread culture of silence around sexual violence which he says has contributed to the exacerbation of the problem.
Hon. Joshua Anyawrach said in Kibuli, a girl was sexually abused by a brother and uncle at the same time.
“Cultural norms that discriminate against women are some of the causes of the problem. People who come from the cattle corridors believe girls between 14 and 15 should get married, they want women who are productive and refer to those between the ages of 24 to 25 as off-layers” Anyawrach said.
To address the problem, Anyawrach said Parliament needs to pass a law on sexual violence as well a strengthen ways in which evidence can be collected.
“There are so many loopholes like how do you gather evidence in a sexual matter, we need equipment to detect, prove, record and present evidence in court.” Anyawrach said
Musuya reasons that the current learning curriculum is inadequate in training teachers on the issue of sexual violence, therefore undermining efforts to end sexual violence. She said every adult has power over young girls therefore, a shared responsibility to protect them as vulnerable groups.
She said parents should also talk to their children and make them understand what abuse means, “sexuality education should be taught”.
The Parliament of Uganda on 4th May 2021 passed the Sexual Offences Bill 2019, which bans sex work and same sex relation.
In the same Bill, a person who by whatever means transmits, transfers, sends, forwards, or directs material of any sexual nature to another person without the consent of the receiver commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
However, this same legislation that seeks to criminalize the exchange of sexual content, has eliminated most recommended provisions that catered to question of consent, because of lack of consensus among legislators on what consent means in its entirety.