In Uganda women and girls face violence at alarming rates

Girls face multiple challenges every day threatening their freedom of speech and movement

The 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey revealed that up to 22% of women aged 15 to 49 in the country had experienced some form of sexual violence. The report also revealed that annually, 13% of women aged 15 to 49 report experiencing sexual violence

Violence against women and girls is one of the human rights violations strongly condemned in Uganda but do people aware of it?

Uganda has ratified various international and regional instruments that outlaw violence against women and girls, and have domesticated them through various legal frameworks like the 1995 Constitution, the Domestic Violence Act 2010, Female Genital Mutilation Act (2011)

Violence against women and girls remains a national issue that is impacting on the lives of women all over the world and Uganda is no exception

A number of policies geared towards the empowerment of girls such as Gender in Education Policy, National Strategy for Girls Education, National Action Plan on Violence against Children in School, and Uganda National Youth Policy 2016 have been developed

In addition, the government has put in place mechanisms to strengthen prevention, response and support for survivors of justice through the establishment of family and children’s unit.

Gender Based Violence has specialized courts in some districts to handle cases using gender-sensitive approach, which has led to reduction of case backlog and led to the attendance of witnesses which was not the case in the traditional courts

As a result, Uganda has registered tremendous progress towards the elimination of gender-based violence, for instance, there are now more young women and girls coming out to report and seek justice in cases of violence

Perpetrators of violence once found guilty are being punished according to the law and this is deterring other potential perpetrators of violence from engaging in similar or related acts of violence.

Most recently the government has started on the project of installing cameras across the city to also support in addressing the issue of kidnaps and murders in the city

The government has put in place mechanisms to track and respond to violence against women and girls through collaboration with Civil Society Organisations and development partners

In institutions of learning, violence is handled according to Reporting, Tracking, Referal and Response guidelines that address violence in schools

We need safe platforms where girls and young women should be able to live and speak without threat of violence and harassment

They need safe spaces and enhanced digital safety to network, mobilize and speak out for change, we shouldn’t only wait for 16 days of activism to start speaking out on these issues, let it be a daily song.

Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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