Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Interfaith organizations have asked the government to speed up the passing into law of the Sexual Offences Bill to reduce the rising cases of gender-based violence in the country.
The bill was re-tabled last year in November by Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding nine months after a stalemate that forced the Bill to be re-written. It seeks to consolidate laws relating to sexual offences and provide procedural and evidential requirements during trial of sexual offences. It also proposes several measures to check among others, sexual harassment in schools by guardians or teachers.
First introduced in 2015 during the Ninth Parliament, a report by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee was presented four years later on 13 February 2019, but during the processing of the Bill, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah then questioned several amendments made to the original bill by the author and advised that it should be reconsidered.
The Bill is currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for consideration.
The Chairperson of Women of Faith Group, Florence Nassanga says that if passed, the law will provide punitive sanctions against perpetrators of sexual offences, abuses as well as protecting the victims. The Women of Faith Group brings together Christian women from the Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Orthodox Church, Born Again Faith and others.
Nassanga was together with the Church of Uganda Provincial President of Mothers Union, Dr. Ruth Ssenyonyi speaking at a press conference in Namirembe where the Anglican Church launched the annual 16 days of activism against gender violence.
The 16 days starting today 25th November to 10th December, when the International Human Rights Day is celebrated, are held for elimination of violence mainly against women.
According to Nassanga, there is an increasing trend of sexual violence, domestic violence, child molesting and defilement in the country especially towards women and girls and that the situation has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
She appealed to Ugandans to engage in concerted efforts to combat all forms of violence saying that the fight is a collective effort.
Dr Ruth Ssenyonyi, the COU Provincial President for Mother’s Union said that during the 16 days of activism against gender violence, the Anglican Church through the different leaders at Diocese level is going to embark on training and educating communities on violence through radios and also provide solutions to different challenges that spark violence.
She also noted that they would also be providing counselling to victims of violence among others.
The 2020 national theme for the 16 days of activism campaign is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Collect and Prevent Gender-Based Violence.”
A statement issued by the Minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs, Peace Mutuuzo indicates that the theme is in line with the urgent need to address the escalating cases of gender-based violence, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
“Uganda has registered 161 cases of murders resulting from domestic violence. It is also important to note that many cases of gender-based violence and violence against children go unreported through any of the recognized channels,” said Mutuuzo.
Margaret Kaziimba, the wife to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda attributed the gender-based violence cases to failure by parents to execute their roles of proper child upbringing.
“The Covid-19 lockdown is God’s plan to have children stay with parents for proper upbringing. We need to prepare them for marriage, have God, care for it and plan,” she said.
According to the Uganda Police Force Criminal Investigations Directorate, a total of 10,280 cases of gender-based violence were reported from January to April 2020. Out of these, 46.8 percent were cases of domestic violence, 43.2 percent defilement while 5.6 percent were for rape.
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