The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa has pledged Parliament’s support to Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) in the fight against violence against on women and girls.
Tayebwa made this commitment in a meeting on gender based violence at Parliament, held on Wednesday, 07 December 2022.
The event is among activities culminating into the end of 16 days of activism against gender based violence across the country.
Tayebwa said a Committee on Post Legislative Scrutiny has been established to ensure laws passed are implemented.
He noted that Parliament has realized positive developments on creating an enabling environment for eliminating gender based violence through enactment of laws.
He cited the Domestic Violence Act 2010, the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009, the Penal Code Act Cap.120, the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2010 and the use of the Sexual Harassment Regulations, among others.
“The committee will also help us identify gaps in the existing laws and policies. These include those raised by members here on gender based violence,” said Tayebwa.
The Deputy Speaker made commitments to ensure that issues of gender based violence, maternal health and sexual reproductive health rights and services are incorporated in the 2023/2024 national budget.
“I will arrange a meeting with the Prime Minister so that we can discuss issues like setting up shelters for victims of gender based violence. We can start slowly and in the long run, cover the whole country,” he said.
Members of Parliament and other gender activists in a group photo after the event held at Parliament
He also urged Members of Parliament to champion the fight against gender based violence by using available platforms to encourage victims to report cases to relevant authorities.
“The fight should go outside conference rooms to the grassroots in the villages. The drivers of gender based violence like poverty, alcoholism and primitive beliefs should be addressed,” said Tayebwa.
He added that, ‘we are looking at mechanisms that will require MPs to report on what they have done in terms of community engagement. We will need to know how many stakeholder meetings you held in addressing issues like gender based violence’.
Tayebwa said naming and shaming perpetrators of gender based violence in the local communities can go a long way in curbing the vice.
“We as MPs can work with religious leaders to read out lists of men who beat women. They are known in the villages,” he noted.
The UWOPA Chairperson, Hon. Sarah Opendi made a call to the Deputy Speaker to allow a Private Member’s Bill titled the Sexual Offenses Bill, to be tabled before Parliament.
“It is Parliament’s responsibility to legislate. We clearly thought through, looked at the gaps in the Penal Code and came up with this Bill so that people do not look at women as sex objects. We cannot wait for government forever,” Opendi said.
She also called for support by law enforcement agencies in ensuring that laws that act against gender based violence are effectively implemented.
Opendi noted that as a result of poor funding to bodies responsible for investigations, most of these cases are poorly handled.
Hon. Sarah Mateke, the State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs said that there is need to raise boys who respect women and girls in society.
“The family unit plays a central role in raising boys and girls who will become responsible men and women who in turn raise the next generation. This role should not be under looked,” Mateke said.
The Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, HE Maria Hakansson observed that Covid-19 greatly aggravated gender based violence.
“If we do not urgently address issues like female genital mutilation, child marriages and teenage pregnancies, Uganda risks missing out on a significant part of the population’s potential,” Hakansson noted.
She added that youth require the support of religious, traditional and political leaders in making decisions that can impact their lives positively.