On June 15, 2017, members of the Domestic Violence Act Coalition (DVAC) in partnership with Uganda Women’s Parliamentarians held a press conference at Parliamentary Lounge petitioning the government on the lack of justice for women and girls experiencing violence.
The petition codenames “Not another woman!” attracted members of the media, civil society and Members of Parliament. Their action followed disturbing revelations of the impunity on violence against women and girls cases within the justice system, prompting the coalition to demand for the rectification of the situation by government.
Addressing the press, led by the Chairperson of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association Hon. Monica Amoding and CEDOVIP’S Executive Director, Tina Musuya, they highlighted cases that are a reality to survivors of violence victims including: a mother and her daughter (the victim of rape) after reporting a case of alleged aggravated defilement by a renowned religious leader, in an unexpected twist of events the law enforcement turned against the woman and her daughter by imprisoning both of them for defamation, furthermore, another young woman who awaits justice after reporting sexual harassment by her former boss, and more recently the many young girls whose futures lie in limbo as it is alleged that they were sexually abused by their late school administrator.
“Our hope was that these revelations would ring a wakeup call to government to critically asses what is happening to pupils and students in both public and private schools in this regard. The inaction and silence from government; Ministry of Education, Police, Office of the Director of Public prosecutions gives us no option but to question their inaction” read part of the statement.
The members also raised concerns over the increasing cases of assault, rape, defilement and in many cases resulting into murder. Infact every day the media is awash with such reports. The coalition also questioned whether in the case of alleged sexual exploitation at the work place by a business Mogul, the delay to commit him in court and the continued witch hunt of top religious leaders victim and her mother done in the interest of justice and upholding the rule of law in our country!
“The implementation of Ugandan laws like the Penal Code Act and the much celebrated achievement of the women’s activism, the Domestic Violence Act 2010 are rendered irrelevant if the perpetrators of violence are roaming free while their victims are incarcerated, lack protection, shamed and blamed for the violence they experience” the statement indicates.
The members therefore made the following demands;
1. That government investigates the allegations of sexual abuse of the young women and girls by the late school principal of St. Lawrence Schools, and institute a committee to look into the welfare of the children left behind by the deceased.
2. That Ministry of Education explains to Ugandans how and when it intends to put mechanisms and policies in place to safeguard the rights of young women and girls in schools from the abuse by persons in authority, the perpetrators licenses should be revoked to make it a risky business for teachers and school administrators to abuse children who are under their tutelage. That police and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions expeditiously concludes investigations on sexual allegations on the proprietor of Aya group of Companies.
3. That the Inspector General of Police directs the re-investigation of the sexual violence allegations against a top religious leader.
4. That government prioritizes the elimination of violence against women in our society by making specific budgetary commitments in 2017/18 year’s budget in fulfillment of its obligations to guarantee the protection of women and girls from inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment in their public and private lives.
As a result of the press conference, various members of the Ugandan community sparked off debate in the media on the need to take action. The coalition plans to engage Parliament through UWOPA to ensure that the demands are implemented by the relevant sectors.