As part of the activities to mark 16 days of activism on violence against women, the School of Women and Gender Studies held a public dialogue to discuss the role of small arms in fuelling domestic violence. The dialogue held under the theme; "From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World; Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women in 2013", was attended by representatives from government, civil society organisations as well as members of staff and students from Makerere University.
Addressing participants, the Executive Director of the Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention, Ms Tina Musuya, said murder was on the increase in homes as a result of small arms. “For many people, home is the most unsafe place. Many callous men are using small arms to intimidate and silence their wives and other family members,” she noted. Ms Musuya gave an example of a woman whose husband would always insert a gun in her private parts on suspicion that she was having an extra marital affair, but would not report for fear of being killed. She also noted that most women on murder charges in Luzira Prison committed the crimes in self-defence against violent partners.
Ms Musuya revealed that domestic violence is high amongst the elite but is not reported for fear of public embarrassment. She noted with concern that some cultural norms were fuelling domestic violence. “Many women are stuck in awful marriages because they are trained to always remain submissive to their husbands regardless of their character,” she said.
She expressed concern over the increasing number of people in possession of fire arms, noting that it could increase violence.
Ms Musuya said many people are not aware that they are experiencing domestic violence. She called for increased sensitization about domestic violence and its effects. She described domestic violence as any form of action that causes physical and psychological harm like sexual violence, incest, unfaithfulness, extreme control, refusal to provide for family and misuse of family property.
Ms Musuya appealed to government to formulate a law on the use of arms in a domestic setting.
In her presentation entitled; “Women’s Bodies as Battle Grounds: Sexual Violence in Conflict Situations”, Ms Helen-Kezie Nwoha from Isis-WICCE noted that women in conflict situations face different forms of violence, which are systematically deployed to achieve military or political objectives. “Rape is used to terrorize the population, break up families, destroy communities and sometimes deliberately used to infect women with HIV or render them incapable of bearing children. It has been used to change ethnic make-up of the next generation,” she said.
Quoting from the Isis-WICCE situational analysis report on women’s experiences of armed conflict in Uganda: Luweero district between 1980-1986, Ms Nwoha noted that out of 92 respondents, 88 reported having been sexually abused or knowing someone who was sexually abused and that 56% were raped or know someone who has been raped. Isis–WICCE (Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange) is a women’s human rights organization whose mandate is to strengthen women’s leadership in conflict and post conflict settings to fully participate in peace building, good governance and development.
Ms Nwoha urged Governments to implement laws and policies put in place to address sexual violence and to provide adequate budgets. She also appealed to Governments to put in place special programmes to address reproductive health complications in conflict settings. Please download below her full presentation and the horrific testimonies of victims of sexual violence in conflict situations.
The Dean, School of Women and Gender Studies, Dr Consolata Kabonesa, informed participants that Gender Based Violence (GBV) is on the increase and that it is impeding individual and national development. She emphasized the need to pressurise Parliament to pass laws like the Marriage and Divorce Bill, saying this would help reduce GBV. Dr Kabonesa said the School of Women and Gender Studies is committed to creating more awareness on GBV and that it would organize more dialogues in that regard.
Ms. Veronica Nakijjoba, Lecturer at the School of Women and Gender Studies, called for more research on the “neglected” issue of fire arms and their contribution to domestic violence.