Center for Domestic Violence Prevention

Upcoming Activities

FGM and DV messages in Kupsabiny will air on Elgon FM
24 Mar 2020 - 29 Aug 2020
Kween
FGM and DV messages in Kupsabiny will air on KTR
26 Mar 2020 - 27 Jul 2020
Kween
FGM and DV messages in Ngakarimajong will air on AKICA FM
24 Mar 2020 - 23 Aug 2020
Moroto
FGM and DV messages in Ngakarimajong will air on Radio Maria
26 Mar 2020 - 27 Jul 2020
Moroto

A crisis within a crisis: Urgent call to Invest in systemic interventions to address domestic violence during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a public health issue, but one with huge social, economic and psychological impacts on people, particularly women, with loss of livelihoods, reduced access to food, health and social services, increased burden of care work and stress in taking care of the needs of the family, and so on. As a result of lockdown and quarantines that have pushed people into their homes, Uganda is also witnessing an upsurge in the number of cases of domestic violence faced by women within their homes. In these very difficult times, women and children are the most vulnerable as they have the least power with no or limited coping mechanisms to address domestic violence as they are isolated from friends, resources and services that they need to be safe. The Uganda police force, has recorded more than 3000 cases of domestic violence with 6 deaths in a space of one month. These days, bulletin or press briefings by the Police are awash with incidences of domestic violence manifesting in all forms, note that women across the social spectrum have experienced domestic violence throughout the country.

 Pandemics, conflicts and natural disasters have a way of exposing deep issues such as gender inequality and violence against women and its consequences in a society. As a country, if we must learn anything from this pandemic it is the urgent need to invest in systemic gender- based violence prevention and response services.

 At the root of domestic violence are power and gender inequalities that are neatly interwoven in our social norms, these guide day to day actions, inactions and interactions between women and men- gender norms that normalize oppression of women. It is typical in many of our communities that when men beat up their wives or partners it is tolerated by the community members who wrongly believe that men have a right to ‘discipline’ their wives and such abuse is considered a private matter. This explains why many neighbors rather than intervene to stop a domestic violence incident have shockingly cheered, filmed the incident and shared it on social media platforms rather than condemn the acts and call in the police or local councils to keep women safe. Acceptance of men’s power over women and normalization of violence against women is very harmful. During the lock down, one common example of this has been various leaders’ repeated calls to women to stop asking their husbands to provide money for the family needs on the pretext that the poor men have lost income and they are stressed. Such calls mean that men should take leave from providing for their family’s needs. Let me ask you very bold and fair questions; Do you in all fairness think that women are enjoying this difficult situation? Where should women find the money to provide for the family needs? Haven’t women equally lost income? Aren’t women equally stressed and burdened with the caregiving work including domestic work, homeschooling and feeding hungry children, and at the end of it all subjected to repeated abuse by their husbands? Why do such leaders use double standards when judging men and women? 

With that background, we can all agree that the consequences of systemic oppression against women and girls are most felt at home or within the family unit - the basic unit of society where belonging, identity, comfort and safety should start from. In this context, we request that the Government of Uganda and the National COVID 19 Response Task Force to urgently adopt necessary measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with human rights standards and upholding principles of equality and non-discrimination through the following actions:

  1. Frontline workers like village defense councils, Local councils, and LDUs in all districts should be given special instructions and service passes to report domestic violence and extend immediate help to any aggrieved woman.
  2. The Government should ensure availability of food for all survivors of domestic violence and their children who do not have the means to support themselves, when they approach the police for help.
  3. The Police should be instructed to treat cases of domestic violence as priority cases, they should take immediate action including recording statements whenever women report or when they call over the phone.
  4. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development should ensure that data relating to domestic violence cases obtained from helplines run by government and NGOs is made available to shape further response strategies.

We look forward to Government’s urgent intervention in this regard. Members of the Domestic Violence Act Coalition are available to extend support to strengthen the Government’s efforts to reach out to women and children facing domestic violence during this difficult time. 

Tina Musuya

Executive Director

Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP)

CEDOVIP coordinates the Domestic Violence Act Coalition