A study by OXFAM and Uganda Women’s Network found that negative religious, cultural and social norms are generally acceptable in communities yet they are drivers of violence against women and girls in Uganda.
Women and gender activists want an end to negative social, religious and
cultural norms blamed for increased violence against women and girls in Uganda.
The call comes as OXFAM and Uganda Women’s Network launch a national campaign
to raise awareness about the effects of the generally accepted norms known
for subjugating women and girls across different communities in Uganda.
Oxfam Country, Director, Shanty Francis Odokorach, says laws against gender-based
violence are ineffective because of the generally acceptable negative norms.
He says religious, cultural and political leaders tend to agree with such
norms and there affected the implementation of laws like the Prohibition of
Female Genital Mutilation Act and Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
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Odokorach urges leaders in government, cultural institutions and places
of worship to promote alternative norms that preserve societal values without
promoting, accommodating or tolerating violence.
Professor Paul Bukuluki of Makerere University’s Department of Social
Work and Social Administration said some of the negative norms have found way
to top decision and policy-making institutions be it Parliament, the Judiciary
Paul Bukuluki, was presenting findings of a study on social
norms and violence against women and girls in Uganda.
He says the research was conducted in the
districts of Lira, Kabarole, Kotido, Kamuli, Isingiro and Kampala. Bukuluki
reveals that while such social norms are often implicit and informal, most people
abide by them.
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He said they found that it is generally acceptable
that men possess, control and allocate monetary resources in the households so they
take hostage in that to behave in ways that disadvantage women and girls.
Bakuluki said they found that social norms that
influence gender-based violence vary greatly across cultural contexts in
Uganda. Some of the norms including those that deny girls
education have been identified as the root causes to early marriages.
Apart from norms around economics and control of
Bakuluki said the norms around physical violence were outstanding in
all the districts.
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The research revealed how a range of social,
cultural, and religious factors ̶ stemming from patriarchy ̶ combined to inform the
construction of a traditional masculinity.
Reverend, Esther Sabiti from John’s Church of
Uganda Kamokya said while the scripture is a powerful tool in ending
gender-based violence, some preachers have selectively interpreted it to subjugate
women and girls.
She lamented that some believers have kept
quiet whenever women and girls have been subjected to violence.
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She says unlike those Christians that have
chosen to keep quiet amidst violence against women and girls, Jesus advocated for
women because most of those in his ministry were women.
Mukono Resident Judge, Justice David Batema said
governance and the justice system can be used to question and reform the social
norms or what is accepted as normal. He said taking a gender-perspective in
interpreting the laws, the Bible or the Koran to avoid discrimination and other
gender-based violence against women and girls.
Known for his stand against gender-based
violence, Justice David Batema said some of the preachers tend to interpret the
bible and the Koran to keep the women in submissive and subordinate positions.
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Justice Batema says if power belongs to the
people as per the constitution, then duty bearers should interpret to the
people what that power is and how it should be used by either the police,
church leaders or the judiciary. He says women continue to suffer violence
because those charged with interpretation and enforcement of the laws lack
training on gender.
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The launch of the Enough Campaign in Uganda
comes ass activists in Uganda prepare for events in commemoration of the UN
System’s 16 Days
of Activism against Gender-Based Violence
activities, from 25
November to 10 December.
year’s event will be commemorated at a time when almost each country is
reporting increased case of gender-based violence as families retreated inside
homes due to the lockdown measures introduced to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.