The number of Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases between January and September 2018 has surpassed the overall number of cases that were recorded in 2017, according to law enforcement officers in the eastern Uganda district of Kaberamaido.
“Between January and September 2018 the total number of cases stands at 115 compared to the overall number in 2017, which stood at 104,” the Officer in Charge of Child and Family protection, Janet Amuge said.
It is estimated that by the end of the year (2018) the overall number of GBV cases in the district is likely to rise by about 40 percent compared to 2017.
The above, according to officials, points to more efforts to reduce GBV and the related adverse effects. GBV is defined as gross violation of fundamental human rights and has severe, long-term negative impacts on the physical and psychological well being of the survivors, their families, and the community.
Speaking during a GBV monitoring and assessment exercise, the district police commander, Godfrey Abigaba, highlighted some other factors that tend to hinder or delay the delivery of justice. He pointed out political interference, ignorance of the law and inadequate funds allocated towards investigation of GBV cases.
Abigaba said Kaberamaido district receives operational funds between Sh600, 000-800,000 every quarter. This is then distributed to the different departments within the Police station, including the Child and Family protection unit-which directly deals with cases of GBV and the Criminal Investigations Department which conducts GBV related investigations.
According to district officials, these meagre resources are often used to buy papers and pens for victims to record statements because over the quarter (three months) the funds are often not enough to buy fuel to take victims to hospital.
He also highlighted the issue of victims who sometimes come to police to seek protection and shelter but there are not enough resources to meet their basic needs while under protection. “Sometimes victims of violence come here at the Police station to seek protection because they are afraid to go back to their communities but to our dismay there are often not enough resources to offer basic needs and restorative services,” said Abigaba.
Community members in Katakwi and Kaberamaido district have also cited corruption and bribery as a major hindrance to justice for victims of Gender based violence (GBV). “There are a number of cases where people bribe police when these cases of abuse have reported but the cases are simply neglected,” said a community member.
Another district official who preferred anonymity said there are times when a case is reported as attempted murder only for another file to appear with a lighter charge of grievous harm.
The DPC also said there was lack of witnesses to testify during cases of GBV. “People are often afraid of coming up as witnesses to testify against suspects of GBV because they are scared of reprisals but they are also quite often ignorant of the protection that witnesses enjoy under the law,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Katakwi, Reverend Canon Lawrence Onyait, St Philip Ngarium Church of Uganda, Palam Sub County in Katakwi district has urged the civil society to continuously sensitize the community about dangers of violence in families. “The community members still lack awareness and there is widespread poverty which tends to breed gender based violence within families, including the denial of basic needs to the children,” he said.