Ugandan youth have petitioned Parliament to fast track the Sexual Offences Bill to help curb the increasing cases of violence against women and girls.
Otuke District Woman Member of Parliament (MP) Silvia Akello who presented the petition on behalf of the youth said that sexual violence is one of the major challenges that negatively impact on the health and wellbeing of girls and young women in the country.
“Young girls are sexually violated in schools, workplaces and in communities generally.82 per cent of girls are sexually harassed right from secondary school and institution of higher learning. The sex for marks syndrome has left our young women violated by males in position of power,” MP Akello said.
She said that if the bill is fast tracked, it will protect young women and men from all forms of sexual violence and ensure that schools, work places and communities become safe spaces.
The petition was presented during a celebration of the National Parliament Youth Advocacy Day on Friday. The event was commemorated with a debate in the Parliamentary Chamber.
In 2016, Monicah Amoding (NRM, Kumi District) and Chairperson of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) tabled the Sexual Offences Bill 2016 as a Private Members Bill, which seeks to consolidate all laws related to sexual offences and also spells out clear sanctions against sex offenders.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, who was the Chief Guest acknowledged that the Sexual Offences Bill was delayed but would ensure that it is passed into law.
“All the pending bills have to be presented before October. I am ready for the Sexual Offences Bill because I know how important it is. I have designated a sitting to legislate on these bills,” she said.
The petition includes concerns on the recently introduced social media tax.
The youth contend that this is discriminatory to unemployed youth who use social media as a platform to search for job opportunities.
The youth also want the Minimum Wage Bill expeditiously passed on grounds that there are increased levels of exploitation from employers. They said most youth have resorted to seeking for greener pastures abroad, where they are tortured, mistreated and sexually abused.
They also demanded that the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) 2018 is amended to reduce nominations fees for persons vying for the position of Member of Parliament. In their submission, they contend that the fees were increased from Shs400, 000 to Shs3, 000,000, which inhibits the young people from vying for positions in public office.
The youth said that much as Uganda championed Pan-Africanism, regional and continental integration, given that it was the fourth to sign on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and good governance in 2008, Uganda has not ratified this Charter 10 years later.