Members of Parliament have urged government to strengthen local councils and cultural leaders as key players in elimination of gender based violence.
Legislators said that the two groups have in the past proven effective in handling disputes in communities more than the police which is currently the main ‘go to’ for GBV cases.
“I know the police is helping in the fight against GBV but it needs to be supported; I worked with local councils and I know they can do much if well equipped,” said Hon. Julius Ekudo (FDC, Gweri County).
Kayunga District Woman Representative, Hon. Idah Nantaba said that the custodians of law enforcement tend to get compromised by perpetrators of GBV.
“For those who have lived in some countries, you know that you don’t just beat a woman and go free; but here if the man goes to the police and has money, he can compromise the prosecution,” she said.
MPs made these remarks during orientation on GBV for the committees of Gender, Labour & Social Development, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities at Parliament, on Monday, 05 December 2022.
The orientation was facilitated by a gender expert from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Dr. Jane Ekapu.
According to the Children’s Act 1989, local councils are mandated to protect the rights of children in their local areas.
MPs were however, concerned that the rampant GBV cases reported in Police crime reports could be an indication of a weak local council system.
“Local government mandates that all LCs should be in charge of child and family protection; I don’t know whether LCs know their mandate. If they don’t know, then, they will let things be; we need target these people,” said hon. Flavia Kabahenda, Chairperson of the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Busia Municipality MP, Hon. Geoffrey Macho said the utilization of cultural leaders will restore sanity in families following the restoration of traditional norms.
Dr. Ekapu said her ministry had registered results working with local authorities and urged MPs to stir up the work being carried out by cultural institutions.
“I know that Teso, Buganda and Tooro Kingdoms have an action plan on GBV; what MPs would do is to tap into those plans,” said Ekapu.
She also tipped MPs to consider working closely with religious institutions in their activism against GBV singling out the Church of Uganda as a key player in fighting female genital mutilation in Sebei.
The orientation of MPs on GBV is part of the annual campaign on 16 days of activism against gender based violence in women and girls, that takes place between 25 November to 10 December every year.